So, the superintendent of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary won't tell even his own advisory board about his plan to set aside an "ecological research area" that will likely include a ban fishing?
And Superintendent Craig MacDonald says he won't submit his plan to his advisory panel until Sept. 14 — the same day he submits it the Newburyport-based New England Fishery Management Council?
Then federal lawmakers need to put immediate clamps on any such proposal until it can be fully vetted not only by the Stellwagen Sanctuary Advisory Committee, but by others within the fishing industry and in the communities that will likely be the most hurt by any proposal that would scale back commercial access more than the New England council and the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration already have.
That MacDonald even thinks he can keep this potential job-killing plan shielded from public view is a disgrace unto itself. Yet, it's clear he's only following the lead of NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco and her minions. They continue to hold to the ideal advanced by the thuggish NOAA enforcement agents who once boasted to workers at the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction that they were indeed "accountable to no one."
There is a ray of hope that even the fishery management council isn't buying into MacDonald's tactics this time around. The council has already made it clear it will not address MacDonald's proposal at tomorrow's Dedham meeting as he had hoped, but at it November sessions. That will at least give the advisory committee a chance to be heard.
But by his actions, MacDonald has shown he doesn't see any need to be accountable to the fishing industry, nor to state and federal lawmakers — all of whom have a vested interest and deserve a say in any plan that will bring new fishing closures over one of the Atlantic's richest fishing grounds.
That's unacceptable. And federal lawmakers must put an emphatic stop on any such moves until all of those voices are heard.