New Orleans aquarium denied FEMA funding

Discussion in 'Environmental' started by crappyballer, Nov 15, 2007.

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  1. crappyballer

    crappyballer Corkscrew Tentacle Anemone

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    I can't believe this crap!!!!:mad:

    NEW ORLEANS - In what some see as another bureaucratic absurdity after Hurricane Katrina, FEMA is refusing to pick up the cost of restocking New Orleans' aquarium because of how the new fish were obtained: straight from the sea.

    FEMA would have been willing to pay more than $600,000 for the fish if they had been bought from commercial suppliers. But the agency is balking because the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas went out and replaced the dead fish the old fashioned way, with hooks and nets. That expedition saved the taxpayers a half-million dollars but did not comply with FEMA regulations.

    "You get to the point where the red tape has so overwhelmed the process that there's not a lot you can do to actually be effective," Warren Eller, associate director of the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute at Louisiana State University, said of FEMA's actions.


    Katrina knocked out power to the tourist attraction at the edge of the French Quarter in August 2005, and the staff returned days four days later to find sharks, tropical fish, jellyfish and thousands of other creatures dead in their tanks.

    Aquarium officials wanted to reopen the place quickly. So even before the $616,000 commitment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency came through, they sent a team on an expedition to the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys and Bahamas, where they caught 1,681 fish for $99,766.

    Despite the clear savings, the dispute has dragged on for 17 months.

    "FEMA does not consider it reasonable when an applicant takes excursions to collect specimens," FEMA quality control manager Barb Schweda wrote in a 2006 e-mail. "They must be obtained through reputable sources where, again, the item is commercially available."

    Facilities cannot be improved upon
    FEMA's refusal to reimburse the aquarium is grounded in the Stafford Act, the federal law governing disaster aid that has been criticized as inadequate for Katrina recovery. The Stafford Act says facilities can only be returned to their pre-disaster condition, not improved. Under those rules, the aquarium would have to buy fish of the approximate age and size of the lost specimens.

    State experts and others counter that acquiring thousands of duplicates in the marketplace is nearly impossible, and a waste of public money.

    "You can go out in the commercial market and buy a clownfish. You can also go out and capture it. And if you're capturing fish to fill an aquarium, it is much more cost-effective. Talk about being good stewards of the taxpayer dollar," said Rick Patterson, a specialist with James Lee Witt Associates, a firm that mediates Louisiana's disputes with FEMA. The firm is led by Witt, FEMA director during the Clinton administration.

    Mark Smith, a spokesman with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, complained that all too often, FEMA does not reward innovation or cost-saving ways to rebuild.

    "It's relatively typical that when Louisiana, or an applicant, finds a unique way to solve a problem that FEMA comes in and throws a flag and says, `No, you can't do that,'" Smith said.

    Local officials have complained that FEMA has applied the rules with maddening literal-mindedness, insisting on itemizing smashed buildings down to every last light fixture, doorknob and hinge when awarding rebuilding aid.

    Bob Josephson, FEMA's director of external affairs in Louisiana, was alerted to the case by The Associated Press and reviewed it recently. He suggested FEMA may have made a mistake, but did not promise quick resolution.

    "There are approximately 35,000 projects in the system and although we work very hard to ensure we get them right the first time around, undoubtedly, some will be misjudged," he said.

    here is the rest of the article:

    No FEMA funds for New Orleans aquarium - Life - MSNBC.com
     
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  3. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    hmmm.. not sure what to make of that! :p
     
  4. omard

    omard Gnarly Old Codfish

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    But no problem spending millions upon millions on trailers/parking/maintenance (saw on TV last night) ... :confused: :confused: :confused:


    :furious3:
     
  5. wastemanagement

    wastemanagement Eyelash Blennie

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    I'm with you Matt,
    Not to sure either, does that mean that if someone has a fishtank insured for power outages and one comes along and wipes out a $20,000 reef tank they should just go for a trip out to the reef and harvest what they consider to be a adiquite replenishment of their tank and just turn and state *`well its going to save everyones insurance primiums from rising`.
     
  6. crappyballer

    crappyballer Corkscrew Tentacle Anemone

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    i believe they were granted a 600,000 dollar budget to buy from commercial people(who were catching the same way.) and decided they had the staff and or resources to go out and get the fish they needed saving fema $500,000 that could have been used to feed, clothe, and shelter people. lets face it the people operating the aquarium in new oreleans aren't exactly hobbyists.
     
  7. Bruce

    Bruce Giant Squid

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    Hmm...I also do not know what to think. I do notice a lot of questionable actions by the government...but I do not like the the New Orleans aquarium took fish from the ocean. Don't we already have enough overfishing.
     
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  9. crappyballer

    crappyballer Corkscrew Tentacle Anemone

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    i don't know for certain but wouldn't they need to obtain the cites (sp?) to bring the fish back into the counrty. so it would be the same as if the commercial people did it. the only people i figured would get mad about this would be the commercial fisherman.
     
  10. wastemanagement

    wastemanagement Eyelash Blennie

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    i would imagine that there would be only a certin amount of licences to fish comercialy this is how over fishing is controled back were im from , and as they control the licences they also control the areas which may be fished . As I remember this is done so that known spawning reefs are protected an d other areas are cycle fished
     
  11. geekdafied

    geekdafied 3reef Sponsor

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    Its like that with anything when it comes to get money from the government. They have their way of doing things that has worked for many years. If you want federal funding there is a guidline to go by. If you deviate from the guidline, you risk losing the federal funding. Thats the aquariums fault for not going by the guidlines and taking the matter into their own hands.

    There is a lot going on with the whole "katrina" thing that is notreported on in the news a lot, such as over 60% of the population pre-katrina is gone and never plans on coming back which is why new orleans is still a mess. They are expecting the feds to come in and clean it up when its not the feds place that the previous owners took their money and ran as far away as they could. Also how they bused the poorest people to other cities such as houston, tx, which now their crime rate is over 300% higher then pre-katrina. Thats another thig thats not reported in the news a lot cause if it was, people wouldnt feel so sorry about what happened in new orleans.

    IMO, why send funding to a city that is set below sea level and requires levies to keep the ocean out, and when the next big hurricane comes through, its going to do the exact same thing again reguardless of how much $$$ is dropped into improving the levies. Thats a huge waste of taxpayer money IMO.
     
  12. geekdafied

    geekdafied 3reef Sponsor

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    CITES is for exporting/importing fish. As I recently learned, anybody with a fishing license can go out and collect fish and corals (SPS not included) from gulf and florida keys. It is only illegal in marine santuaries areas which are few and far between.
     
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