Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Fish Case Points Up Ex-Lobbyist's Challenge

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Fish Case Points Up Ex-Lobbyist's Challenge

Article excerpt

COMMERCE Secretary Ron Brown brings a lot of connections from his previous jobs as a lobbyist and political operative. As a result, he must walk a thin line between just doing his job and getting embroiled in conflicts of interest.

The case of the whiting catch in the Pacific Northwest demonstrates how difficult that distinction can be. This spring, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which regulates fishing in Oregon, Washington, and California, decided to allocate 63 percent of the $100-million-a-year whiting catch to shore-based processors and boaters. Seattle-based factory trawlers, which process the fish at sea, felt cheated.

"Both sides tried to exercise a lot of political influence," says Phil Anderson, chairman of the Pacific council. "A lot of political pressure was applied to Secretary Brown's office."

The factory trawlers won the day. On April 15, the Commerce Department, which oversees the council, gave them 70 percent of the catch - pretty much the same allocation as in 1992. …

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