NOAA Office of Law Enforcement/Office of General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation

Making up the enforcement arm of NOAA and NMFS, after years of complaints from the fishing industry in New England and the Mid-Atlantic and much political prodding, these two offices were finally investigated by the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce. The IGs investigation proved unequicocally that the fishermen and on-shore business had been right, that personnel in the two offices had been acting far beyond acceptable bounds (see the Inspector General's report here).

Six months after the IG's report was made public an internal memo from the Todd Zinser, the Inspector General, to NOAA head Jane Lubchenco came to light which cast even more doubt on the claims of openess and transparency that Ms. Lubchenco had made after the original IG's report. As aways, Richard Gaines at the Gloucester Daily Times gave full coverage to this startling revelation (link) just as the majority of the mainstream media s ignored it.

Exacerbating what was at the time and has continued to be a serious problem with fisheries enforcement ny the Northeast region OLE/GCEL,two researchers funded by Lenfest link published a paper blaming purposeful overfishing in New Endland for the lack of recovery of the groundfish stocks. From a column I wrote for Saving Seafood (link) "our system of justice is predicated on the assumption that people are innocent until proven guilty. Evidently Jon Sutinenís (University of Rhode Island) and Dennis Kingís (University of Maryland) isnít. In the report on their research on the New England Groundfish Fishery that they published in the journal Marine Policy in April of this year (Rational noncompliance and the liquidation of Northeast groundfish resources), Professors Sutinen and King demonstrated that the academic world they inhabit isnít constrained by such silliness (link). Needless to say, this article fit right in with the Pew "blame it all on fishing" attitude (Pew administers the Lenfest program).

A column I wrote on the OLE situation, The agency that brought us Trawlgate now presents Investigate, the next in the series, is here.