CEO of Weyerhaeuser appointed to run the national
forests. As part of the deal, he gets to keep his
old job. Federal law wouldn't allow it, of course.
It's a simple conflict of interest. But when it comes
to the folks who regulate ocean fishing, conflicts
of interest are not only permissible, they're a regular
part of the game. Full
Pacific council pushes plan to quash historic coral
reserve. Council puts corals, spiny lobster and
rare monk seal at risk so a few can profit. Full
millions of lobsters, and monk seal pups starved to
death. Graphic (large file).
Friction. Industry resists Pew Commission’s
call for change. Full
mammals killed by Pacific fisheries. Graphic
to speak “fisheries”.
2: The Rockfish Files.
show the Pacific Fishery Management Council ignored
scientific advice as it let the bottom dwellers crash.
stocks are down. Hundreds of tons of imperiled
rockfish are killed and wasted as bycatch each year
in West Coast fisheries. Graphic
ownership of a public resource? The IFQ debate. Full
3: Essential Coral Gardens
Pacific council rejects plan to protect coral and sponge,
though the plan meant
little reduction in commercial fishing. Full
our Undersea Yellowstones. Scientists find
marine reserves build bigger fish and produce more young.
Baja to Bering. Exploring coral and sponge
secrets along the West Coast and Alaska. Graphic
effects: A conservation map of the North Pacific. Graphic
(very large file).
our Failed Fisheries.
you can do for the Pacific Ocean.
Pacific Ocean Conservation Directory.
A follow up article from Dec. 31, 2003, in the Honolulu
©2003 Cascadia Times
Shopping for Scientists
Wespac's end run
around the Endangered Species Act
By Paul Koberstein
The leatherback sea turtle, one of the world’s most endangered
large animals, is another species that has tangled with Wespac’s
fishing plans. Swordfish longlining kills leatherbacks by hooking
or entangling them. In 2000, the journal Nature said unless longlining
stopped killing leatherbacks, the species could be only years from
In 2000, Earthjustice lawyer Paul Achitoff persuaded a federal
judge to prevent the swordfish longliners operating out of Hawai‘i
from killing sea turtles. Since then, NOAA Fisheries has issued
two biological opinions under the Endangered Species Act saying
Hawai‘i longlining jeopardizes the leatherback’s existence.
NOAA Fisheries is due to complete another biological opinion by
April 1, 2004.
Wespac and the industry group Hawai‘i Longliners Association
(HLA) have fought the jeopardy rulings with little success. As Wespac
Executive Director Kitty Simonds said at a recent public meeting,
NOAA Fisheries assistant administrator William Hogarth “promised
many, many times over the last several months” that NOAA would
develop a solution acceptable to Wespac. “We have yet to see
this,” Simonds said.
Wespac is trying to come up with biological opinions that favor
longliners. As one federal scientist told the Weekly, “If
you can determine which scientists do the work, you can determine
the outcome.” The longliners have asked NOAA administrator
Conrad Lautenbacher to help them shop for the right scientists.
They hired Ret. Vice Admiral James Lyons, former Commander in Chief
of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet during the mid-1980s, to contact
Lautenbacher, himself a retired vice admiral. Lautenbacher also
served with the Honolulu-based Pacific Fleet during the mid-1980s.
On Oct. 3, Lyons wrote a letter to “Connie” suggesting
that scientists based in Hawai‘i “know the science of
this issue better than any other group” in the agency. “We
have come to the conclusion that those scientists most knowledgeable
… should be engaged in this decision making process.”
Similarly, Sean Martin, a Wespac member, pressed the issue with
NOAA Fisheries Deputy Administrator Rebecca Lent. “I want
to stress that HLA, the Hawaii Congressional Delegation and the
Wespac council believe that the solution to this problem needs to
be developed with those individuals who know best the local science
and biology of our area — that is the Pacific-based individuals”
within the agency, Martin wrote.
Both Lyons and Martin requested Sam Pooley, the acting regional
director for NOAA Fisheries in Hawai‘i, to chair a working
group comprised of selected scientists. Five of the seven longliner-approved
scientists all work for NOAA’s Honolulu Lab: Jeff Polovina,
Pierre Kleiber, Chris Boggs, Don Kobayashi and George Balazas. A
sixth, Milani Chaloupka, is an Australian scientist, and the affliliation
of a seventh, Peter Limpus, could not be verified.
So far, NOAA has resisted allowing Wespac to go shopping for scientists.
"I assigned staff weeks ago, neither [Wespac] or anyone else
had any influence on it and will not have any in the future,"
says Laurie Allen, director of the agency’s Office of Protected
Resources in Maryland. "I have complete confidence in the integrity
and ability of those staff to complete a sound, scientifically-based
opinion that complies with applicable law. We are aware of the pressures
in this case and are being very careful to maintain the integrity
of the process. I will be signing this biological opinion and it
will say jeopardy or no jeopardy based on my office's analysis.”