Environmental Defense Fund is implicated in ruining fishing communities on every coast, from Kake, Alaska, and Gloucester, Mass., to Bayou La Batre, Alabama, though catch share systems are also blamed for knocking thousands of fishermen out of the industry, usually because of inequities in how the shares were originally distributed by the government, according to an article by Ben Raines at AL.com, sent by the Saving Seafood organization.
EDF gained unprecedented power in 2008 when President Obama controversially appointed the vice-chair of EDF's board, Jane Lubchenco, a respected but little known fisheries professor at Oregon State University, as the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the nation's fish stocks. Once in power, Lubchenco, enacted EDF's goals, while EDF staff members simultaneously organized and funded the creation of non-profit activist groups made up of small numbers of commercial fishermen on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts to claim they really wanted a national catch share policy.
Environmentalists have mastered this technique, known as "astroturfing" and called such because it looks green but is a fake grassroots movement. No surprise that they gave leadership of these fake non-profits to the fishermen who benefited most from Lubchenco's efforts to make EDF activism into Obama administration policy. EDF even got on national television with the National Geographic TV show "Big Fish, Texas," which starred Buddy Guindon and his family. On that show, the top EDF official in the Gulf was shown in a private meeting coaching Guindon on what to say before he spoke to the Texas Legislature.
You might think it looks bad to be caught on camera coaching fishermen on what to say, but environmentalists pride themselves on such manipulation. It's why Organic Consumers Association funds over 300 groups to promote their anti-science message, it's why groups pay Michael Pollan to "consult" and buy his books for their donors.
"They pay for all of the travel, meals, everything for anyone who goes on one of these trips to Washington or the council meetings. They talk to the fishermen about what to say. And they tell the fishermen to just give them all their receipts and they'd cover everything," Wayne Warner, who was a founding member of the Shareholder's Alliance but quit the first year because he disapproved of the environmental group's involvement, told the journalist.
"What you are seeing is a conservation group that has gone rogue... What EDF really wants is to privatize the entire resource," Daniel Pauly, a professor at the University of British Columbia who is responsible for developing the concept of keystone species in aquatic food webs and popularizing the notion that the world's fish stocks are much worse off than most scientists believe, told Raines. He disputes the EDF position that catch shares improve fisheries. Instead, he said, they cause "economic redistribution."
EDF claims driving small business - invariably inclined to be small government - out of existence and consolidating the industry into large wealthy fleets reliant on environmental lobbyists and government to keep out competitors is just a case of "unintended consequences." Others say it created a new feudal system, with serfs and lords on the sea. Lubchenco, who left NOAA in 2013 and resumed her position on the EDF board, did not respond to his requests for comment.
"Normally environmental groups and NGOs are for the little guy, but here, the EDF people are siding with the big guys, the corporate interests that want to own and privatize our fisheries," Pauly told him. "It makes EDF very strange in the world of environmental groups. But then they are being funded by Walmart."