OPINION | Barry Richard: Warren Stands Against The Local Fishing Industry
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has been wobbly at best in her position on protecting the interests of the fishing industry that is so vital to the New Bedford economy.
In the waning days of his administration President Barrack Obama designated some 5-thousand square miles off the Atlantic coast as The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The designation prohibits drilling for gas, oil or minerals in the region and bans fishing there as well.
Supporters say there is an urgent need to protect the fragile ecosystems and that the region has been overfished resulting in decreased populations of various species, including lobster. The fishing industry says the data has been skewered and that further limitations on their industry will have a chilling economic effect.
The Trump administration has promised a review of this and other such designations of lands across the country that environmentalists have attempted to protect from exploratory drilling. Until now Warren has been mute on the issue. Under immense pressure by both sides to weigh in on the matter Warren has finally issued a statement on her website which only serves to confuse her position even further.
In speaking last night with WBSM's Tim Dunn, Warren clearly supports the monument designation for the sole purpose of preventing offshore drilling. I suppose she'd prefer to return to the days when we depended upon foreign sources of gas an oil that placed us at the mercy of often unfriendly governments.
Warren admits that the designation has an unintended consequence in that it prohibits fishing in the designated area. She says the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, enacted in 1976 should be used to determine fishing quotas and limitations and not the monument designation itself. In other words, she doesn't want the monument designation, which she supports, to prohibit fishing in the designated area. She supports the designation simply to prevent drilling. I guess the fishermen can figure it out later.
Warren is clearly trying to have it both ways. She panders to the environmentalists, critical to re-election bid and any effort to make to Pennsylvania Avenue in 2020. But, she also claims to support the fishing industry. You can't have it both ways.
It's time for Senator Warren to either stand with the New Bedford fishing industry or make way for someone who does.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.