It's not over yet

Last week came word that Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire was nominating Lori Swanson for a seat on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Well, this choice apparently didn't sit well with a large segment of the industry.

Deckboss has intercepted the following email attempting to rally support for an alternate, Craig Cross.

The email is from Jim Gilmore, the Washington, D.C., lobbyist for the At-sea Processors Association, which represents Bering Sea factory trawlers. It's addressed to several major commercial fishing organizations: the Deep Sea Fishermen's Union, the Alaska Crab Coalition, the Fishing Vessel Owners' Association, Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, the Freezer Longline Coalition and United Catcher Boats.

Here's the email:

From: Jim Gilmore
Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2012 6:24 PM
To: 'Mark Gleason'; 'Edward Poulsen'; 'Robert Alverson'; 'Arni Thomson'; 'Theodore Kronmiller'; 'Kenny Down'; 'Brent Paine'; 'Justin LeBlanc'; 'Sara Chapman'
Cc: 'Stephanie Madsen'; 'Craig Cross'
Subject: North Pacific Council seat


By now, you have no doubt heard that Governor Gregoire has selected Lori Swanson as the preferred nominee for appointment to the North Pacific Council with Craig Cross as the second choice.

Among many others within and outside the commercial fisheries, our seven organizations supported Craig's candidacy, urging the Governor to select Craig as the preferred nominee. The issue we now face is whether to continue to press the case with Washington's Senators and Democrat House members or to accept the Governor's verdict.

This appointment seems particularly important since among the three Washington Council seats, it is the only seat to be occupied by a commercial fisheries participant — and that is likely to be the case for the next five years until John Henderschedt reaches the end of his third term. John, of course, is an excellent Council member, but he has changed jobs since his first appointment, leaving the industry with one less seat to represent our diverse interests.

What is startling, and troubling, about the Governor's decision is the disregard shown for the almost unprecedented breadth of industry support for Craig's candidacy, certainly when contrasted with the very narrow support for Lori's candidacy. The trawl, longline, and pot vessel sectors, including both catcher and catcher/processor vessels employing those gear types, and a crewmember union voiced unqualified support for Craig, expressing broad stakeholder support for him to fill the one industry seat available to a $2 billion industry.

Both Lori and Craig meet the MSA requirements for Council appointees. Obviously, I am biased in believing that Craig is still the stronger candidate, but I can see a decision maker viewing the candidates as essentially equally qualified to garner the asterisk as the preferred nominee.

What I find appalling though is that the decision ignores the fact that virtually the whole industry lined up behind one candidate and that in evaluating two qualified candidates, the deciding factor — whatever that was — ran counter to the will and confidence of the industry. The MSA requires consultation with the industry, and the Governor's letter to NOAA Fisheries (attached) details such consultations. But what is the point of holding such consultations if the input received is ignored? Fewer than one-third of the "groups consulted" supported Lori's selection and several of those groups are comprised of essentially the same actors only with a different letterhead. Moreover, the expert agency, WDFW recommended Craig as the preferred nominee. There is no rationale for Lori's selection that trumps the expressed wishes of the vast majority of commercial fishing interests or the recommendation of the state's fishery agency.

Overturning the Governor's recommendation is not an easy task. The question is whether the principle established that the commercial fishing industry's input is not a determining factor in gubernatorial decisions a precedent that we are satisfied to let stand. Practically speaking, it would take essentially universal support and active advocacy of our groups to make the case to Democrats in the Washington delegation that they should weigh in with the Secretary of Commerce for Craig's appointment, overturning the recommendation of a lame duck governor who has demonstrated no regard for constituents who supported her for eight years.

What are the wishes of the group? Perhaps each of you should consider your preferred course of action and communicate your intentions to Craig? If there is sufficient support for moving forward to support Craig, we can have a call to discuss strategies, but I also understand if folks decide that it's time to move on to other issues. Thanks.


Jim Gilmore
Director of Public Affairs
At-sea Processors Association
Washington, DC