Congressman Barney Frank and Congressman John Tierney today announced that they have received the attached letter from Todd Zinser, Commerce Department Inspector General, which states that his office will review NOAA's rulemaking process concerning the fishing industry.
In the letter, Zinser writes that "based on your request, the results of NOAA's outside review, and concerns expressed to us, we will be undertaking an evaluation to address several key areas concerning fisheries rulemaking." Zinser's letter was a response to an August letter (attached) from Tierney and Frank in which they called for an investigation of the rulemaking process.
In his response, Zinser stated that one of the primary goals of the re-evaluation process would be to take into account "the socioeconomic impact of regulations on fishermen and fishing communities" as stipulated in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Frank and Tierney have long argued that this provision of the law has been all but ignored in the rulemaking process.
This most recent sign of progress follows years of effort on both the federal and local levels. Mayor Scott Lang of New Bedford has worked closely with Massachusetts lawmakers in both the House and Senate to change punitive rules over the fishing industry.
"While we have had frustrations in our dealings with the federal government on behalf of the fishing industry," said Congressman Frank, "the Inspector General of the Commerce Department has been a consistent bright spot. His office did excellent work in backing up our claims regarding law enforcement and I am hoping that the investigation process will provide similarly positive results leading to improvements in rulemaking regarding fisheries management."
"For too long, concerns have been raised about the fairness and transparency of the rules and regulations impacting our fishermen. The Inspector General's decision to investigate NOAA fisheries rulemaking is a positive development, and I appreciate Mr. Zinser's willingness to conduct this important work. Congressman Frank and I will closely follow the results of the IG's review," Congressman John Tierney said.