June 15, 2012 – The U.S. Commerce Department confirmed Thursday that it has received and is reviewing the second report from Special Master Charles B. Swartwood III, made up of more than 60 case studies of complaints of improper law enforcement actions by fishermen and fishing businesses primarily in Massachusetts ports, especially Gloucester and New Bedford.
"Special Master Swartwood has finished his work on Phase 2 of his investigation," a Commerce Department official said in an email to the Times. "Review and consideration of the report and its recommendations are ongoing. Decisions will be released via a memorandum once the ongoing process is complete," said the official, who was authorized to comment on condition of anonymity.
The first report of more than 30 complaints found 11 that wronged the accused badly enough to warrant a recommendation for reparations. The then-Commerce secretary, Gary Locke, now ambassador to China, adopted virtually all the recommendations and issued a public apology and distributed more than $600,000 in reparations, including to some fishermen and businesses in Gloucester.
Before the first report was filed with Locke in April 2011, he reopened the window for new appeals of findings and settlements, dating back to 1994. The additional opportunity gave Swartwood the 66 cases that he has reviewed and reported his findings to Locke's successor, John Bryson.
Initially, Swartwood was retained by Locke to pursue loose ends and new leads following the last of a series of reports by Inspector General Todd Zinser into complaints that the fisheries law enforcement system at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had become vindictive, capricious and rudderless.