Monday, July 23, 2007

Broadwater Says It Has Set Up a Fishermen's Committee to Help Fishermen, But the Fishermen Say they've Never Heard of Such a Thing

Here’s a great find by a reporter for a weekly on Long Island: A couple of weeks ago, FERC asked Broadwater to provide more information about how its LNG terminal would affect commercial fishing in Long Island Sound. No problem, Broadwater said – we’ve already set up a committee with commercial fishermen to study exactly that! And that’s not all. Broadwater said the committee…

is currently negotiating a compensation package for the fishermen, who will lose access to fishing grounds and equipment as a result of the Broadwater facility, if approved.

The problem is, Broadwater said it but it appears not to be true. Here’s more, from reporter Denise Civiletti (who now has gotten good Broadwater scoops twice lately):

That assertion took local lobstermen and fishermen by surprise — and has them wondering who's on such a committee, if it exists.

"I don't know the first thing about it," said Jimmy King, a lobsterman who works off the Mattituck dock.

"Nobody out here has heard anything about this committee," said Mary Bess Phillips, Mark's wife and partner in Alice's Fish Market in Greenport. She said she and her husband first heard about the advisory committee when they read about it in last week's Suffolk Times. Chris Smith, Cooperative Extension marine program director, also said he is unaware of such a committee.

On June 20, FERC asked Broadwater to specify the types and geographic extent of "demonstrable loss" by local commercial fishermen as a result of the siting of its proposed 1,200-foot-long LNG plant nine miles north of Wading River.

Broadwater responded that it "has established a Fisheries Advisory Committee open to individuals involved in local commercial fishing activities" and that it is "coordinating closely with local fishery organizations" to ensure that fishermen impacted by the Broadwater plan participate in the committee.

"As the discussions between Broadwater and the commercial fishing interests in the Project Area are currently ongoing, the exact specifics of the process and compensation package are being negotiated," Broadwater's response to FERC stated.

But Broadwater isn't able to provide specifics on the people it says it's engaged in ongoing discussions and negotiations. In reply to an e-mail requesting the names and contact information of members of the fisheries advisory committee, Broadwater's Amy Kelley wrote:

"The fisheries advisory committee is a joint committee between Broadwater and commercial fishermen. The initial meeting was to agree on the formation of a committee. We are now in the process of developing the infrastructure and governance rules. Until the committee is formalized and members are finalized, Broadwater is the contact for this committee."

That has local fishermen shaking their heads this week.

If such a committee exists, Mr. King said, he would surely know about it. The commercial fishermen on the North Fork are a small, tight-knit group, noted Mr. King, who serves as president of the Southold Town Trustees when he's not hauling his catch from several hundred lobster traps on the Sound bottom, from Herod's Point, due south of the proposed Broadwater site, east to Roanoke.

There’s more. Read the whole thing here.

And Denise Civiletti, it turns out, is the co-publisher and executive editor of the Suffolk Times, and co-publisher of a handful of other weeklies on the east end. Here's her blog.



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