In these waning days of the current misadministration, it seems that Bushco is still intent upon gifting industry and weakening environmental safeguards. In this episode, it is the National Marine Fisheries Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that is attempting to do the gift-giving.
Currently under (proposed) siege are protections against overfishing. The proposed changes would lessen agency oversight.
Boston — Under the guise of updating procedures, the Bush administration is pushing changes which could dramatically weaken protections against overfishing already depleted ocean stocks, according to public comments filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The thrust of the Bush plan would cede more control to the fishing industry over environmental harvest limits.
The proposed rule is here (pdf), along with information about submitting comments. The period for public comments ends August 12, 2008.
Although Congress mandated updating of environmental review procedures for marine fisheries management, that update was supposed to encourage ecosystem management of ocean resources and strengthen rather than sap safeguards against over-fishing. Nearly a year past the congressionally mandated due date, the Bush administration unveiled a plan that –
Puts the fishing industry, rather than NOAA, in charge of framing assessments of the effects of management policies, including deciding the scope, timing and standard of evaluation for environmental reviews. This change, in essence, privatizes management of ocean fisheries;
Expands loopholes for avoiding any environmental reviews on a host of fishery actions;
and Cuts the ability of outside researchers, conservation groups and the public to review and comment on fishery management decisions.
After hobbling so many federal agencies, including the gutting of EPA libraries (only to have a few reopen in a new handy lavatory size), the administration is still falling all over itself looking for new ways to reward big business. No stone (or ocean) is left unturned.
“Only the Bush administration would champion privatizing the oceans,” Bennett added. “The declining state of our seas calls for bold national leadership and international cooperation rather than the abdication of responsibilities reflected here.”
Bold leadership, sadly lacking for the last 8 years.