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Baker is right to shape fisheries board as he sees fit

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The Globe published an article last month detailing the action of the Baker administration in replacing seven of the nine members of a state fisheries board (“Baker shakes up state fisheries commission”), and this month a letter to the editor criticized the action (“Baker’s shake-up of fisheries commission is a distressing move”). I follow these issues, as my coastal district includes the state’s premier commercial fishing port and is an active center for recreational fishing. I have served as a member of the joint environment committee in the Legislature, including as House cochair. I am a member of the New England Fishery Management Council’s Enforcement Advisory Panel.

All seven members whom Governor Baker replaced were serving as holdovers whose statutory terms had long expired.

Charlie Baker wasn't my candidate for governor in 2014, but he did win; I recognize his obligation to fill these positions and shape a panel that reflects his approach to fisheries management. I believe the new appointees reflect a diverse experience in fisheries, and no one quoted in the news article could credibly assert that the new members aren't qualified for this panel.

Something else is probably behind the protests by those who were replaced and their allies within the state fisheries department. The challenge to the governor suggests that the bureaucracy had grown comfortable with the holdover board serving in perpetuity. However, advisory panels serve for set terms of years, and a governor has the duty to do his job by filling these slots and then being responsible to explain the substantive policies taken in his name. I suggest the better course is to now judge the board's performance in the years ahead.


William Straus
State representative
10th Bristol District