BOSTON -- September 7, 2012 -- The attorney for National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration argued to the US. First Circuit Court of Appeals that
there was no need to put the catch share management program under the
authority of a federal judge to limit rampant consolidation of the fleet
because the regional arm of the agency was already doing that.
The problem is being taken seriously; it is being addressed,” Joan
Pepin, a U.S. Justice Department attorney, told the three-judge panel
Wednesday. “The process has been under way since the end of last year.
It’s called Amendment 18.”
The comment was made in discussion
with Chief Justice Sandra L. Lynch, near the end of the hour long oral
argument over the suit by New Bedford, Gloucester and widespread fishing
interests against NOAA for introducing a radical re-engineering of the
groundfishery without considering the socio-economic implications or
giving fishermen the chance to vote on whether to create this new world
which made fishing more efficient but also powered consolidation.
later, then in discussion with the plaintiffs’ lead attorney James F.
Cavanaugh Jr., Judge Lynch adopted Pepin’s description of Amendment 18.
asked for an order that in effect (NOAA) would have to do a study and
consider consolidation and consider whether they have to modify this
program,” the judge said, distilling and rephrasing the redress sought
by the plaintiffs. “As I understand it, they’re doing that, so what’s
Cavanaugh said he was not aware from the record that NOAA was addressing consolidation.
“No?” said the judge. “Amendment 18.”
“Amendment 18?” a non-plussed Cavanaugh said.
fact that Amendment 18, as Pepin and Judge Lynch described it, didn’t
ring a bell with Cavanaugh should not have been surprising. Pepin’s
characterization of a directed effort, known as Amendment 18, that was
addressing a clearly defined problem — consolidation of the
groundfishery — was inaccurate, a check of records shows. Amendment 18 —
the genesis of which traces to 2010 but has not yet made it on the
agenda of the New England Fishery Management Council for official
consideration as a possible action — is an idea whose time has yet to
The last item on the council agenda for its September
meeting in Plymouth is to set the agenda for 2013. A year ago, in
setting the agenda for 2012, the council put Amendment 18 so far down
that it was all but certain not to make it onto the floor for
preliminary discussion. Advocates of controls on consolidation or
putting some limits on the catch share system cried foul.
the council did do about Amendment 18 was conduct a series of 10
“scoping” hearings that gathered a broad distribution of opinions and no
clear consensus on what the council should do — if anything – about
fleet consolidation or changes in the diversity of the fleet brought on
by the catch share management system.
Read the full story in the Gloucester Times