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May 24, 2013

Senate hopeful Gomez hears fishermen's concerns

U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez Thursday lent a sympathetic ear to the unfolding life crises of Gloucester fishermen, battered and beaten down by federal dictates that have limited landings to half —or in some cases less than a quarter— of what was allowed last year, despite assertions by a government agency and members of Congress that the cuts are not required

A Cohasset businessman, Republican and former Navy seal, Gomez’s foe in the June 25 special election is U.S. Rep. Edward Markey of Malden, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, who has become a favorite of the green wing of the Democratic Party, and a believer in Obama administration fisheries policies.

Those policies, said many of the two dozen fishermen who met with Gomez at the Cape Ann Seafood Exchange at Harbor Loop, have brought mom-and-pop fishing businesses to the precipice of bankruptcy or beyond.

In his low-key manner, Gomez echoed the approach taken by Scott Brown, then a little-known Republican state senator from Wrentham who pulled a major upset in 2010, winning the special election to fill the seat vacated by the death of Edward M. Kennedy.

“I don’t pretend to be an expert,” said Gomez. “I’m hear to learn and listen.”

Gomez was introduced by two former aides to Brown, who developed a confident voice and clear understanding of the dense nature of fisheries regulatory politics — Vito Calomo, a retired commercial fisherman, and attorney Jack Richards, who was Brown’s liaison to the fishing industry and Gloucester.

“I’m a fast learner, and I’m a man of my word,” said Gomez, who sat in an informal circle at the center of the auction auditorium where fish caught in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank are sold to major buyers in the early morning hours.

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