Congressmen say nation's top NOAA cop should go

Posted: Sunday, March 07, 2010

BOSTON - Four Massachusetts congressmen have called for the nation's top fisheries cop to resign after he ordered files destroyed while his agency was being investigated.

Sen. John Kerry and Reps. Barney Frank, John Tierney and Bill Delahunt said Thursday that Dale Jones should step down as director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's law enforcement office.

Tierney said NOAA head Jane Lubchenco should at least remove Jones from authority until an Inspector General's review of his office is complete. An overhaul of the entire department also is needed, he said.

"We need a whole reorganization from Mr. Jones down," Tierney said. "People come in and treat these fishermen like common criminals."

The review began last year after Northeast fishermen complained of unfair enforcement of the nation's complex fisheries laws that led to uncalled for criminal investigations.

Inspector General Todd Zinser said Wednesday that Jones ordered the files destroyed after the review began.

NOAA said Thursday it was awaiting results of Zinser's investigation into the shredding, and couldn't discuss personnel matters.

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