There may well be some local fishermen who would just as soon see the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pull its Northeast regional headquarters out of Gloucester, as an amendment slipped into the U.S. Senate fiscal 2013 budget calls for under the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
Indeed, fishermen have often groused about having to look up at NOAA's $13 million building at the end of Gloucester's Blackburn Industrial Park, clearly visible high atop its hill from the inner harbor, and ponder the agency's fisheries enforcement tactics that have been clearly cited by a federal Inspector General's office, yet largely brushed aside by NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco and her policing minions.
Yet most should also recognize that a pullout by the bulk of NOAA's Northeast fisheries management, administration and enforcement services to Silver Spring — pushed by Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski in what seems like a shameless "bring home the pork" effort — would be a loss to Gloucester on several counts.
That goes beyond another loss of jobs, which is clearly irrelevant to Lubchenco, given that her catch shares management system has been killing fishermen's jobs for two years, with more to come. The fact is, NOAA's presence here contributes significantly to the community through a variety of school outreach projects and other means.
The most embarrassing aspect of this misguided move, however, is that, by moving its fisheries headquarters from Gloucester to Silver Spring — just outside the Nation's Capital — NOAA officials would be putting even more distance between their own personnel and the industry with which they are supposed to be working. Indeed, such a move would send a clear message that NOAA has become so dysfunctional and has so lost touch with its own mission that it is basically circling its wagons around the Capital Beltway.
Thankfully, U.S. Sens. Scott Brown and Congressman John Tierney already recognize that, and are vowing to fight any such move — and we can only hope they can convince the vast majority of their colleagues to do the same.
This is one budget amendment that should be filed under "G" for garbage — and tossed right into the legislative trash bin, where it belongs.