August 9, 2012 — There can be no disputing the need for a disaster declaration. There is no way that anyone can question that there is a pending economic calamity threatening the entire groundfishery.
When Gov. Deval Patrick last November submitted his formal call for an economic disaster declaration regarding the state’s commercial groundfishery, he presented a strong case, backed by troubling marine science data researched through the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
Indeed, those numbers – compiled from the first year of fishing under NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco’s beloved, corporately-backed catch share management system – noted that, of 96 groundfishing Gloucester boats of the time, 21 had been forced to the sidelines, all victims of Lubchenco’s job-killing consolidation policies.
The Commerce Department and Lubchenco’s NOAA, of course, have still not granted that declaration. They also haven’t rejected it; in true Lubchenkian form, they’ve shown no commitment to accountability and continue to ignore the governor’s request altogether, save for a Lubchenco letter sent to a governor’s cabinet member vowing an answer “soon.” That was in February.
So it’s perfectly justified for U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown to once again try to step up the pressure for action on the disaster declaration, as they have in a letter sent this week to acting Secretary of Commerce Roberta Blank. And they should get an immediate answer, for this time, Commerce and NOAA have no choice.