01/12/2011 - The federal government's key agency overseeing fishing in New England is aligned against fishermen and federal officials have callously and carelessly ignored an industry in crisis, Representative Barney Frank wrote today in a blistering opinion article against the Obama administration's Commerce Department.
The article, published on the New Bedford Standard-Times' website, follows Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's decision last week to reject an emergency request to raise catch limits of certain fish. Governor Deval Patrick and members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation had made the request to aid the decimated fishing industry and followed up the request with a report from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, that provided ways to raise the limits without endangering fishing stocks.
Locke said the report did not provide enough new scientific evidence that showed such a change in policy was warranted.
Peter Baker of the Pew Environment Group says Frank has legitimate concerns about some smaller-scale fishermen suffering this year, but raising the overall catch limits will only exacerbate the situation. The overall yields this year for New England’s ground-fishing fleet are up 17 percent, Baker contends, but most of those gains are going to a small number of big operators.
Read the article Frank Attacks Commerce Dept. on Catch Limits on the Boston Globe's Web site.