Policy: Environment & Energy

Big Green's well-financed death grip on fisheries policy must be broken

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This chart shows fishery-related grants from several foundations. Drag to move, click a node to focus.
Source: Nils E. Stolpe, FishNet USA. Graphic by Luke Rosiak/Washington Examiner. Ron Arnold,Columnists,Analysis,Energy and Environment,Fishing

President Obama's administration has added to its war on coal and its wind-farm eagle-chopping policy and is trying to yank seafood out of America's diet.

For more than a decade, the National Marine Fisheries Service has devoured fishing fleets while Big Green’s money octopus prods the feds by waving grant-eating enviros in its tentacles, causing them to hook the public’s attention with mindless frenzy against “overfishing.”

Submerge for a moment in the seething political storm that fishermen live in — examine the overwhelming network diagram above. You’re looking at 552 grants totaling $561,907,154 — over half a billion dollars from six Big Green foundations: Pew, Packard, Walton, Moore, Surdna and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, each a funding octopus with anti-fishing payday tentacles that twine and choke and, for the most part, destroy.

Zoom in on one tentacle: Four Pew foundations gave Earthjustice -- formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund -- 20 grants totaling $25,156,500 in the past decade to sue and stop anything productive.

And SeaWeb ($2.6 million 2012 income) — one of the first greenies to declare war on fishermen — used to be Pew SeaWeb, founded in 1996, incubating to become its own public opinion-making octopus in 1999.

Biologist Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- who resigned in February -- was arguably the brainiest and most viciously crass NOAA administrator ever. Members of Congress called for her resignation for destroying fishing fleets in struggling coastal communities using Big Green's brutal “catch shares” rationing program, and for tolerating fisherman fines enforced by corrupt federal cops. Before NOAA, the Packard Foundation gave Lubchenco's Aldo Leopold Leadership Program $2.1 million to enable scientists to lead politicians and the public with scientific-technical control of public policy.

Nils Stolpe, veteran executive, consultant, and advocate for the commercial fishing community, sorted those numbers from Internal Revenue Service Form 990 reports and posted the result on his FishNet USA website. The Washington Examiner used Stolpe's findings to construct the diagram.

I asked Stolpe what seafood producers can do to defend themselves from that swirling galaxy of enemies. “Good marine fisheries management and government that plays by the rules,” he said, adding, “if we can get it.”

Stolpe hopes to get fair play. He spoke of the House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and panel members' concern over attacks on the seafood industry. Stolpe said, “They’ve had four hearings this year, getting ready to reauthorize the primary ocean fisheries management law.”

That law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, has had provisions for a thriving, respected seafood industry since it was first passed in 1976 -- but Big Green pressure has blotted out everything that would help production.

University of Washington fisheries Professor Ray Hilborn focused on that problem in a September committee hearing, pointing out that the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides not only for rebuilding fish stocks, ensuring conservation and protecting essential habitat, but also, “the Act makes it clear that one objective is to provide for ‘the development of fisheries which are underutilized or not utilized … to assure that our citizens benefit from the employment, food supply and revenue which could be generated thereby.’”

Whoa! The federal government has been enforcing only half of the law? Hilborn thinks so. He told the panel, “The two specifically targeted actions are to rebuild over-exploited stocks and develop fisheries on underutilized species.”

OK, that’s clear enough. But what really happened? “While we have reduced overfishing,” said Hilborn, “one consequence has been far more underutilized fish stocks, and we seem to have lost sight of the actual goals of employment, food supply, recreational opportunity and revenue.”

Those key items, employment, food supply, and revenue are the very things Big Green has targeted for incremental destruction year after year. They’ve crushed, vilified, and destroyed seafood producers nationwide, fed by money earned in gigantic foundation investment portfolios of corporate common stocks, real estate and other assets.

Big Green is a dangerous, overwhelming power. That power lock must be broken.

RON ARNOLD, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
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