A public watchdog and advocate for fishermen and their coastal communities. Taufen is an "insider" who blew the whistle on the international profit laundering between global affiliates of North Pacific seafood companies, who use illicit accounting to deny the USA the proper taxes on seafood trade. The same practices are used to lower ex-vessel prices to the fleets, and to bleed monies from our regional economy. Contact Stephen Taufen
June 1stMSA: Councils To Get More Abusive Power
Congressman Richard Pombo's March 28 version of the Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act creates a broad and potentially abusive power. A regional fish council may "on its own initiative" begin an amendment or plan under 'Section 7 Limited Access Privilege Programs.' Other aspects of the bill assault Constitutional protections.
Pombo (R-CA) is chair of the U.S. House Resources Committee, and on page 42 of his Bill regarding LAPPs, it states, ''(5) PROGRAM INITIATION. - ''(A) LIMITATION. - Except as provided in subparagraph (D), a Council may initiate a fishery management plan or amendment to establish a limited access privilege program to harvest fish on its own initiative or if the Secretary has certified an appropriate petition."
Surely you know how to read 'except as'; and the following and separating word 'or' points only to petitions made to the Secretary. We don't believe that Pombo the Californian wrote this lobbyist-lightened language. But he is helping Ted Stevens and his fish cronies to permanently pave the existing deficit-financed Bridge to Yokohama's fish docks (and offshore tax havens).
But to drive there, he has to take a route through the New England states, home to Stevens' largest political opponents on fisheries. Accordingly, subparagraph D offers to that set of States rights or privileges that are superior to other States under this Union, as follows.
''(D) NEW ENGLAND REFERENDUM. - '' The New England Council may not submit, and the Secretary may not approve or implement, a fishery management plan or amendment that creates an individual fishing quota program, including a Secretarial plan, unless such a system, as ultimately developed, has been approved by more than 2/3 of those voting in a referendum among eligible permit holders with respect to the New England Council. If an individual fishing quota program fails to be approved by the requisite number of those voting, it may be revised and submitted for approval in a subsequent referendum." There is more language in the bill, which you should read, too.
This is not a situation where Alaskan fish tycoons were feeling so patriotic that they just wanted to give some of the original 13 colonies a cozy political redd, is it? It's an unconstitutional means of guaranteeing votes for passage. Accordingly, the next questions may be far more damning, "will the New England representatives abide Pombo and Stevens by actually voting for a bill containing such an obviously unconstitutional provision?" Will any United States Senator?
We have not been able to obtain a copy of the committee's recently approved version, and its Amendments (nor the House Rules that go along with the DC political game), so we have to use Pombo's March 28 version. But this abuse of states rights is no mistake; and moreover, it should have been Alaska calling for such protections, not vote buying.
This is just one more positive litmus test showing Ted's racketeer influencing role in fisheries. He's waited for years to give away to Trident Seafoods and the Pacific Seafood Group and foreign-controlled Japanese shoreside plants your harvesting rights, and place you under debt peonage. There won't be a chance to repair this for years to come, if ever - if that's even possible afterwards.
To grasp matters further, you have to review the history of the fisheries act establishing the 200-mile zone. What the Magnuson Fisheries Conservation and Management Act did was establish the "first-tier legislation" needed to begin the biological and basic stewardship management of our Nation's fisheries. In a 1979 Pacific Rim report concerned with what excessive foreign investment in US Fisheries of the North Pacific would mean, Per Heggelund and Jeremiah Sullivan pointed out that what needed to follow was "second-tier legislation" to deal with the economic issues - one of which would be international (cross-border) Transfer Pricing abuses. And they pointed out that task belongs to the entire Congress.
Those were clearly different days on the Hill, compared to how corporate lobbyists and political parties work today. Groundswell rejects this committee-tainted process, because the Nation's fisheries are too strategically important for the backroom dealing of lobbyist-influenced committees.
Would any other Nation allow this to happen to them? No, they would and regularly do send out warships to protect their fisheries. And those Gatling guns on NOAA ships are not for decoration, either - but it seems their purpose has been twisted to protect the Occupied Territories of Dutch Harbor for the Japanese transnational tax evaders and to keep all other foreigners from having any U.S. fish. It stands the Magnuson Act on its head to give only to Japanese trading corporations rights that the act was supposed to prevent.
What Stevens has never done - and his son Ben deliberately failed to do while heading the Salmon Task Force - is to view the ex-vessel price as a driving measure of economic wealth. Both Stevens's refuse to raise the public serving issues of properly pricing exports and correcting the deficit in the balance of trade. Instead, they run a racket to give federal marketing funds as kickbacks to processors, while knowing full well those firms practice the global product laundering. To fight for the People's rights would not have served the corporate masters. And the kickbacks just helped cover more campaign contributions in return. This one-hand washing the other hand process fools no one. It is economic treason.
After Ted became the powerful leader of the fourth branch of the U.S. government, Appropriations (another aberration not as significant in 1976), he started to line up this second tier for the future. He now has the chair of the Commerce Committee while still holding a major position on Appropriations (defense spending). It was the perfect opportunity for the Stevens family, too; which is why Ben was called upon for coordinated rationalization in Alaska's state fisheries (the infamous SB113).
Ted feels untouchable and even above the President, for many reasons - not the least of which was his quid pro quo with Senator Patty Murray on crab rationalization (allowing corporations to meet against antitrust laws) in return for the Boeing Tanker Gate deal, for which neither will go to jail. Boeing just paid a huge fine to shut it all up and stop it from exposing this bilateral racketeering by two Senators it desperately needs. A recent national news article named the lobbyists for Boeing who also assisted Ted in collecting millions of dollars for his "foundation." But few are willing to connect the dots to the deepest coffers of the corruption underway, and apparently Ted's abusive power over both political parties clearly does rank above a single-party President's, and even above the Department of Justice, sometimes.
So, we doubt that the Congress will stop Ted, because both political parties have dirtied their hands too often at his money trough, and can't break ranks now. They are all scrambling on the Hill to avoid investigation like Cunningham, DeLay, Jefferson and others - yet the corruption of Stevens, Murray, Pombo and Young and the others involved in fixing this fishery game far exceed anything the others have done.
Instead, with so many other senators on the Hill being neither Republican nor Democrat, but rather Appropriation Senators - the most powerful kind - there seems to be no stopping Stevens. That's why it appears that the best the New England states apparently could do was obtain a trade-off for themselves, at the expense of other states and the Constitution. We will be ashamed if they don't correct this states rights issue, but maybe that's why they've let it stay in the bill so far, and maybe they have plans to fight for it to apply to all states later. (Maybe they know it will be a reason for harvesters to sue, and take it all the way to the Supreme Court, too.)
Look to the past and see who has benefited from the "rationalization" schemes to privatize the People's fisheries, and you learn most of what you need to know. But in 2006, the entire Congress will never review our national fisheries acts for the real issues of the economics of national wealth in a strategic resource. It's all about greed and payoffs, today. We'd be surprised if they don't just suck the Nation deeper into the pit of pending revolution.
However, pointing this out may cause a couple of Senators to stand a bit taller and act properly. What needs to happen is for the economic privatization language to be stricken from this version of the MSA - and let it handle the NEPA issues and a few other changes, as well as financing NOAA. The LAPPs need to be postponed until the Congress can have the GAO conduct complete studies, this time in great depth, about who owns and controls US fisheries today - especially in Alaska. And who finances the trawlers and draggers, too? They also need to study the transfer pricing aspects and a lot more, especially ex-vessel pricing and first wholesale export pricing problems.
Only when Congress fully understands the nature of foreign directive and control, and how transnational corporations have taken away great national resource wealth for their own benefit to the detriment of the Treasury, will it know how to design proper tier-two legislation. Not before. (Although they could listen to the fleets and communities for a start and at least know what not to do - such as include LAPPs).
In mid-December of 2000, Senator Trent Lott made Ted Stevens bow Japanese style (deeply) to the entire Senate in apology for his tirade and attempt to overpower the leaders of the Senate and House, over the Steller Sea Lion and rookery closures. Brother Lott did that after we informed the Appropriations committee members that Ted was after hundreds of millions of dollars for tax evading enemies of the State (Japanese shoreside pollock processors).
CSPAN-2 covered the bow, and so there's no denying what must have happened in the Senate woodshed during the night before. Most astonishing is what came immediately afterwards, when Stevens was apparently to give a second apology directly to the sitting Senate president, and he deliberately failed to humbly give that apology. Instead, he said, "You have to understand, Alaska is a lot closer to Tokyo than to Washington DC." And for a moment it looked like Ted was going to receive a contempt charge, but he saw the jaw-tightening look and firmly gripped gavel, and mumbled his way back to regular business. Think about that for a second. That's how uncontrollably arrogant Ted's attitude is toward the entire government.
He's flaunted his Tasmanian Devil and Hulk ties long enough, and bullied far too many Congressmen. The rest of the Senate should be ready to finally take away his most coveted prize - renewal of the MSA with allocation of national resources to cronies - in a way that fails to grant transnational tax evaders the prize. We certainly hope so, because Ted deserves a far stronger political whipping than the last time. So does his son Ben, who just filed to rerun for his state senate seat. This Nation cannot long tolerate this unfettered arrogance, and we hope other Senators and the White House are listening.
We highly suggest you read Pombo's bill for yourself. POMBO179.pdf
Write to Senate Commerce Committee members and let them know your dissatisfaction and opposition to such obvious abusive language concerning the greed of the closed-class processors and their politicians like Ted Stevens. It is time for some humility on behalf of these greedy hoodlums, and for Pombo, Young, Stevens and the entire Council Family to bow to the People, instead: on their own initiative.
Stephen Taufen - Groundswell Fisheries Movement