"When community leaders, residents and visiting fishermen and their families gather tonight for a vigil and rally in support of the industry, their primary focus will no doubt be on the heavy-handed tactics used by enforcement personnel with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its National Marine Fisheries Service.
It is those tactics, after all, that are the subject of a federal Department of Commerce Inspector General's probe being carried out in at least two Massachusetts sites this week. And it's the NOAA enforcement treatment of the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction that has now rightfully spawned a federal judge's demand for an explanation of NOAA's media push to suggest that the auction was facing a imminent shutdown, when the NOAA action merely amounted to new allegations, and that no shutdown is immediately pending.
Yet it's also clear that another arm of the Department of Commerce may also want to look into an equally threatening issue for New England's fishermen, especially, in the coming months. That's the market impact of the conversion to a regulatory format based on "catch shares," pushed hard by new NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco and approved two weeks ago by the New England Fishery Management Council."