East Coast Members of Congress to Meet with Commerce Secretary on Fishing Issues
WHAT: Congressional Meeting with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to Discuss Fishing Industry Issues
WHEN: Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 -- 3pm. The meeting is closed to press, but members will be available for interviews after the meeting at approximately 4 p.m.
CONTACT: Bruno Freitas (202) 225-5931
Thursday, September 23rd, Congressmen Barney Frank, along with other
members of House and Senate from North Carolina to Maine, and
representatives of the fishing industry, will meet with Secretary of
Commerce Gary Locke to discuss critical issues facing the industry.
meeting requested by Congressman Frank will focus on working towards
resolving several important issues such as the Secretary of Commerce's
authority to issue emergency regulations to increase the allowable catch
of important "choke species" stocks to prevent a premature closing of
the Northeast ground fishery, and how to address Congressional concerns
related to NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement.
Statement by Congressman Frank
this summer, I called for Dr. Lubchenco's resignation because I was
dissatisfied with how fish regulations where being administered. I
subsequently withdrew that statement after White House officials stated
that the call for her removal was a drastic step that they do not wish
to take, and that they believed the replacement of Dr. Lubchenco was
unnecessary to correct the problems that concern me. They assured me
that they understood my concerns and based on that assurance, and
because my sole interest is achieving those changes, I agreed to
continue working with the Administration."
"Since that time
we've been engaged in several discussions with Secretary Locke, who has
direct oversight over the fishing service, and with the help of [New
Bedford Mayor] Scott Lang, [UMass Professor] Dr. Brian Rothschild,
leaders in the fishing industry, and especially my colleague John
Tierney, we have made our case to the Administration."
Tierney and I have called for the Administration to take the following
actions at the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE): impose disciplinary
action on individuals who the Inspector General (IG) has stated acted
inappropriately within OLE, including the head of law enforcement;
address problems with the OLE Asset Forfeiture Fund and the system that
incentivized the practice of excessive fines that were then used to
purchase equipment and fund travel expenses creating a conflict of
interest; and reopen old cases where the IG has documented unfairness."
addition to addressing choke stocks and problems within the Office of
Law Enforcement, I will also advocate changing the rules that factor
economic impact in management decisions and urge the Secretary to begin
the process of looking at NOAA and NFMS regulations that have been used
as a justification not to use the statutory authority provided in
Magnuson-Stevens to set higher catch limits."
"I am pleased that
the Secretary Locke has been leading this effort, and I look forward to
meeting with him on Thursday to see if our assurances are being made
concrete. I hope to learn definitively on Thursday that this is
happening. If not, I will work with my colleagues to pursue our goals
through other means."