, Gloucester, MA

August 23, 2013

Letter: The DPA, Cape Pond Ice and NOAA

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

I could never be a bureaucrat.

I would spend the days tormenting myself thinking of all the damage that my decisions might inflict upon people. I would never be able to sleep at night.

Let us take, for example, the policy makers in charge of the state’s Designated Port Area program.

If I were one such policy maker, I would know for sure the damage my decision would bring upon Scott Memhard and the Cape Pond Ice Company. Because of the decisions of other bureaucrats at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, fishermen can no longer go to fish as they once did. And the destruction of those jobs at sea is creating havoc on land.

The Cape Pond Ice Company is one victim. For more than a century, the mainstay of the Cape Pond Ice Company was to sell ice to the fishing boats. Fish caught would thus be kept fresh, cool, and healthy.

No more. Since the fishermen are not allowed to fish, the Cape Pond Ice Company has seen this share of its business fall from nearly 100 percent to about 15 percent of total sales.

The gradual destruction of this business by one bureaucratic slight of hand after another is not simply the tale of a “profit”-making business going to pot. The possible demise of the Cape Pond Ice Company, a company that has been in business for 165 years, since 1848, represents the demise of a chunk of our history and our culture in Gloucester.

To realize the size of the ongoing loss, you only need to visit that establishment, their website, our library, or our Cape Ann Museum, whose Fisheries and Maritime collection “contains many objects relating to Gloucester’s role in the history of fishing, maritime trade and ship building. Visitors are invited to explore the real-life artifacts of over 300 years of industry, imagination and romance related to the sea.”

Unless President Obama wakes up one morning and decides to put a stop to the demise of the fishing industry, there is only one bureaucratic decision that can avert the likely eventual demise of the Cape Pond Ice Company. The officer in charge of the state DPA program can grant an exception to the Cape Pond Ice Company so that Scott Memhard can utilize his splendid water views by building a restaurant or an office around that part of the ice factory that is at present underutilized.

I can hear the hue and cry rising from many quarters. An exception cannot be granted, because it will contribute to an eventual demise of the conception of the protection of the waterfront for maritime uses.

I only need to remind people that this is still a country with lots of conscience. We, the taxpayers, the few remaining and dwindling number of taxpayers, will make up the difference. We will inwardly scream, but we will pay higher local, state, and national taxes. But rather than screaming inwardly, why don’t we send a clear message to President Obama and the officers of the state DPA program that we have had enough?

We can start calling your representative officials at the local, state, and national level. Write them letters.

But there are two more avenues for regaining our power as citizens in this country: Rather than sending our taxes to the designated offices, let us put a good chunk of them in an escrow account, with instructions to our bank to release those funds only after Scott Memhard is allowed to do what his God-given talents call him to do best.

And, if we are a little braver, let us also place into an escrow account a good portion of our federal income taxes to be released only when President Obama stops NOAA cold from interfering with the lives of small fishermen — and starts doing its God-given job of controlling large industrial fishing operations that do the damage to fish stocks.

Is this a call to insurrection or civil disobedience? Words, words. These are only words.

I rather like to return to the principle on which this country was founded: No taxation without representation of our interests.


Middle Street, Gloucester