Longline Catcher Processor Cooperative Act stalls in House subcommittee

July 27, 2010 Washington DC – the U.S. House Resources’ Subcommittee On Insular Affairs, Oceans And Wildlife took up the issue of HR3910, the Longline Catcher Processor Subsector Single Fishery Cooperative Act, for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands ‘Pacific cod’ fisheries. 

Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for fisheries and director of NMFS under NOAA, said “NMFS supports the intent of the bill, but does not support the bill itself.  The North Pacific Fishery Management Council already has the authority to recommend cooperative management for this fishery, and NMFS believes that it is preferable for such a change in fishery management policy be developed and implemented through the open and collaborative processes maintained by the Magnuson-Steven (sic) Fishery Management Act rather than imposed by statute.”

Quote from Dave Little of Clipper Seafoods answering Congressman Robert Wittman about cost of delaying the cooperative because of going through the slow NPFMC process without this legislative end-run:

“We think that there would be an immediate increase in the value of the retained catch – in the form of byproducts and other by-catch caught halibut – that could be as much as $50 million per year, which goes directly to the crewmembers and the families that they support.”

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National Ocean Council formed by Obama Administration executive order

The Coriolis of Ocean Politics

July 19, 2010 – The White House, Washington D.C., USA.  

The Obama Administration issued an executive order this week to better coordinate the stewardship of our oceans, by involving most of the Cabinet members (but not all) and representatives from other federal environmental and economic agencies.  The command is to take a comprehensive science-based approach to the conservation and management so that the health of ocean ecosystems finally drives decision-making.  It all sounds so warm and fuzzy, and necessary. 

But, why did they leave out some of the more important economic players — like the Treasury Secretary?

You can download the report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force (a quasi-successor to the Ocean Policy Commission under G.W. Bush) and the executive order at  http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/oceans .

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Bristol Bay Sockeye Season Price Climbs but a long way from fair!

July 20, 2010  Bristol Bay, Alaska – Sockeye salmon returns through the 19th clicked in at 38.9 million fish, with 11.3 million of it allowed to escape upstream to spawn, leaving the commercial catch at 27.6 million fish.  Two companies have announced base prices, before ice and refrigeration premiums, of 95 and 96 cents per pound.  That places its value at around $150 million – not counting the roe.   Several fish writers have referred to this as “great” and “wow,” but Groundswell says “so what!”  With the Yen at 87 to the US Dollar, processors who market fillets to Japan through parent companies from their hollowed subsidiaries in Alaska can easily afford to pay $2.50 a pound.   It’s a product mix with much of the salmon going into cans, but in a steady-as-she-went, no-peak season like 2010 (we heard no reports of boats being put on limits), we’ll have to see what the split in fresh-frozen and canned sales is later.  But we guarantee you the processors are smiling like the cat in Alice in Wonderland … all the way to the bank.  It would be a good year for stepped-up IRS Audit exams for Abusive Transfer Pricing.

Update: Congressman Frank backs down on request to remove NOAA administrator Lubchenco

Obama Administration assures Congressional members that NOAA will work on key fishery problems.

Just one day after calling for the removal of Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Fisheries’ administrator, Rep. Barney Frank received assurances from the White House that it would be too drastic of a move at this time to ask Lubchenco to step down.  Groundswell would like readers to note that Lubchenco came to NOAA in large part based on the recommendation of Monica Medina, whose husband Ronald Klain is the chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden.  Medina is now the senior advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce, Jane Lubchenco’s second title.   Do you think some political face cards have been played in the past 24 hours?  Or was this about avoiding the public embarassment and insulting certain environmental non-government organizations behind the Catch Share privatizations of public commons resources?

July 9, 2010 – from SavingSeafood.Org site (see more there) — Congressman Frank issued this statement: 

“After my call for the resignation of NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, I have spoken to officials from President Obama’s administration and they have told me that they strongly believe this to be a drastic step that they do not wish to take, and that they believe the replacement of Dr. Lubchenco is unnecessary to correct the problems that concern me.   Based on their assurance that these issues are being seriously considered by Dr. Jane Lubchenco and other relevant Administration officials, I will not be pressing for a new administrator.  I hope that I can be shown that the problems facing the fishing industry can be solved with Dr. Jane Lubchenco’s participation.  I will continue to work with her and the Administration and look forward to having serious and meaningful discussions about how we can proceed with the problems facing the fishing industry.  I particularly note that the Administration has assured me that this will be given the highest priority.” – Rep. Barney Frank

Congressmen call for replacement of NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco

July 8 – 2010 – Breaking News from today’s WBSM’s Saving Seafood hour radio broadcast.

Congressmen Barney Frank & John Tierney called for Dr. Jane Lubchenco to be replaced as Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Rep. Frank even termed Luchenco as being “hostile” to the industry’s needs, as he outlined problems of agency interference with an economic activity, corruption and related issues.   He briefly noted concerns with how NOAA has dealt with the flounder allowable catch limits, as well as Catch Shares and other concerns.  Read more at the blogroll for Saving Seafoods!

 And they didn’t even mention NOAA’s poor handling of the Gulf Oil Spill volume assessments.