It's troubling that the state's Division of Marine Fisheries wants to keep secret the names of those under consideration for Gov. Deval Patrick's recommendations to fill a key opening on the New England Fishery Management Council.
Indeed, if the process is to gain any shred of credibility, Marine Fisheries Director Paul Diodati should publicly list the nine candidates who have apparently submitted applications to gain the governor's nod. And the process frankly needs a healthy transfusion of transparency and credibility alike, given the way that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco have been stacking councils with only appointees who will carry water for their job- and small business-killing catch share management system.
But the real irony at this point is that the one known candidate to succeed outgoing New England Council Chairman John Pappalardo, Tom Dempsey of the Cape Cod Hook Fishermen's Association, is one that neither Patrick nor the Locke-Lubchenco dance team can even seriously consider.
That's because Pappalardo, as council chairman and CEO of the same Cape Cod Hook Fishermen's group, has come to epitomize the insidious, corrupt actions by a council that unfairly granted additional quota to Pappalardo's own organization. And the Cape Cod Hook Fishermen's Association — propped up by grants from environmental agencies, and really more of catch-share lobbying gang than a true coalition of working fishermen — has allegedly sold off at least a share of that quota for profit, all thanks to good ol' Pappy and his council cohorts.
Indeed, that entire relationship is part and parcel of the federal lawsuit filed by the cities of Gloucester and New Bedford and a wide array of fishing industry interest. And that alone should disqualify another member of Pappalardo's group for another council term, given that the governor and Congressmen Barney Frank and John Tierney have joined the industry's lawsuit citing the Cape Cod group's wrongdoing.
Passing Dempsey's name along to Locke would only stand as a green light for maintaining the council's corrupt status quo, and that's simply not acceptable.
If Diodati and Patrick truly want to take a stand for Massachusetts fishermen, they should try to ensure that a true fishing captain from Gloucester or New Bedford tops the list — then hold Locke's feet to the fire to gain the seat.
Maybe, just maybe, that would give this embattled regional council the credibility jolt it so sorely needs.