- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 11, 2005

Fisheries management

The key to conserving America’s fisheries and marine habitat is ignored by Adm. James D. Watkins and Leon E. Panetta, authors of Wednesday’s Op-Ed column “From sea to shining sea.”

Even reports from the organizations they head, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission, acknowledge that the North Pacific — where we have no overfished stocks and have consistently protected habitat — has been successful.

In fact, environmental groups around the country have praised fisheries management off the shores of Alaska. The formula for success has been the decentralized, non-Washington-based regional council system, which allows local fishermen and environmentalists to work together with scientists, academics and others a role in decision-making.

In Alaska, fishermen pay strict attention to what the scientists tell them about sustainability. In fact, all U.S. fisheries are managed through the same regional, science-driven approach. What you don’t hear about are the success stories that are happening around the country to restore fish and their habitats.

All the regional councils recently called for more integration of science into management. They recognized that some regions of the country do not have confidence in the objectivity of their scientists, but they agreed that if science advisers are better integrated into the regional decision-making process, improved conservation will be the result.

There have been recommendations that the regional fishery management council system be dismantled and that management authority of our federal fisheries be handed over to federal officials in Washington. This would benefit no one. The people whose livelihoods and communities are at stake need to be involved.

As Congress considers revising federal fishery management law, it should recall the value of an open, public management process that resides close to those most affected by the decisions. Increased integration of science into a regional management process, rather than serving up a one-size-fits-all approach to fishery regulations crafted by bureaucrats in Washington, seems the sensible approach.

DAVID BENTON

Executive director

Marine Conservation Alliance

Juneau, Alaska

Restrain spending

It was disappointing to read the letter from Cato Institute senior fellow Jagadeesh Gokhale, endorsing a net cut of about 20 percent in the retirement income promised by Social Security for large numbers of retirees as a necessary tradeoff for personal retirement accounts (“Social Security woes, tradeoffs,” June 1).

However, it was distressing and mind-boggling to read Mr. Gokhale in the same letter criticize modestly reducing the growth rate of other federal spending to help cover the federal government’s temporary cash crunch, created if part of payroll tax revenues are placed in the personal accounts.

Mr. Gokhale sounded like a representative of the public employee unions when he said that modest reduction would leave people without adequate roads in their neighborhoods or effective national defense. The Congressional Budget Office projects that under current law, federal spending will soar in coming years from 20 percent of gross domestic product today to 34 percent.

The spending-growth restraint proposal Mr. Gokhale criticizes would reduce that eventual growth by just a few percentage points. Obviously much, much more serious spending restraint is going to be needed if America is not going to succumb to the Swedish socialism the Cato Institute used to oppose.

LAWRENCE A. HUNTER

Vice president and chief economist

Free Enterprise Fund

Washington

The greatest and largest export

Boeing may well have a case against Airbus and the European Union for government subsidies, but this is not the reason Boeing has seen its share of the commercial-airliner market drop like a stone, from more than 70 percent to less than 50 percent percent (“Ferme la Airbus,” Commentary, Tuesday).

Boeing has been greatly aided by U.S. government contracts and research and development over many decades. (The Boeing 707, the first successful commercial jetliner, was a converted Air Force tanker.) Britain after World War II had a clear lead in jet airplane technology but lost the commercial airliner business after the first jet airliner, the Comet, had three crashes because of a faulty airframe.

Europe got its act together in the 1990s with Airbus 300 airliners, which had a slight technological edge over Boeing, a major productivity advantage, and were cheaper to maintain and operate: A pilot was able to fly the entire fleet without extensive new training.

Plus, Airbus had government-subsidized financing. Boeing instead engaged in expensive mergers and acquisitions and failed to develop the next generation of airliners to replace its aging models. Boeing also passed up on manufacturing regional jets, which allowed the Brazilians and Canadians to take over the fastest-growing class of jetliners, which economically fly 20 to 80 passengers on 1,000-plus-mile trips, making commuter prop planes obsolete and reducing the need for Boeing’s 100-plus-passenger airliners.

In this decade, Boeing has been troubled by corruption scandals, a nasty corporate culture of infighting, deficient ethics, troubled labor-management relations and poor leadership. In its first really new airplane in more than 20 years, the Dreamliner, Boeing has decided to outsource manufacture of the wing and other key components to Japan and China, thereby giving those nations the keys to overturn what is left of the U.S. airliner business in the next decade.

Loss of commercial-airliner manufacturing represents the loss of the single largest export of U.S. goods, which in the 1970s and 1980s often accounted for more than half of monthly U.S. goods exports.

There are just two airliner makers left in the world. Unless Boeing (with some government support) gets its act together soon, commercial airliners are likely to be made in Europe, Japan and China in the decades ahead, and the United States will have lost another vital industry.

PAUL HUDSON

Executive director

Aviation Consumer Action Project

Washington

Proper care for pets

Thanks for reporting on the laws requiring airlines to record animal deaths (“Airlines will start tracking fate of Fluffy and Fido,” Page 1, May 31). For an animal, flying in a plane’s cargo hold is terrifyingly stressful at best, and too often, it is deadly.

Instead, take Fluffy in the cabin with you. Check with your airline to see if your pet’s carrier will fit under the seat, and make sure the carrier is sturdy, securely locked and large enough to allow your pet to stand, stretch and turn around.

If Fluffy is just too large, the kindest option is to leave her in her own home, where she’s most comfortable, instead of taking her to a kennel full of strange people, smells and animals. Find a trustworthy animal sitter through friends or relatives — and don’t feel strange about calling to check up or even leaving extra bowls of water around the house in case the sitter gets struck by lightning or loses your house key — Fluffy will thank you for it.

INGRID E. NEWKIRK

President

People for the Ethical Treatment of

Animals

Norfolk

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