WASHINGTON — There were more people at the fishermen's rally here two years ago — perhaps twice as many as the 2,000 or so solid souls who made it to the Capitol.
There were also reports of buses stuck in Manhattan and Delaware, while some pinned the turnout on the important final day of the spiny lobster season, and the fact that a lot of the fleet had gone out of business.
Beyond the political leaders of the region, Gloucester and the North Shore were sparsely represented.
Vito Giacalone, the Gloucester-based industry leader and fisherman who serves as policy director with the Northeast Seafood Coalition, said many fishermen were working in the unseasonably inviting weather.
The fishermen's bus from New Bedford left with one rider and arrived, late, with fewer than a dozen who came on in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
But while they were fewer in number, those who took in the "Keep Fishermen Fishing" event were stronger in passion, volume and anger. There was little backpatting, laughter, or any kids-in-the-park-on-a nice-day feeling.
They wore shirts that compared the national fisheries management to Nazis.
They bore signs that said, "How high up is the corruption?"; "Give it back, thief"; and "Jesus was a fisherman, why can't we be?"
New Jerseyite Jim Lovgren, a former member of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, said he was tossed off the council because he dissented with the government-leaning majority.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its advisory councils are "under the influence of environmental groups in a rogue agency," Lovgren said while standing on the lawn of the Upper Senate Park. "They're shredding documents," he added, referring to findings in the 2010 Inspector General's report. "Why aren't they in jail?"
The author of one of the lawsuits challenging the groundfishing regimen for the regions of the Mid Atlantic and New England, he compared the government's actions to "genocide of an industry."
Kurt Deyback, a Bricktown, N.J., scalloper, told how the government forced him to have an observer aboard his boat, who was paid $770. "I was allowed 600 pounds, then an extra 100, and the crew shucked them, iced them, bagged them and then gave away $770.
"NMFS doesn't deserve it," he said of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. "We're fishing to survive."
"This is about getting NOAA out of your boat and out of your baitbox," Congressman Frank Lobiondo, a New Jersey Democrat, told a crowd that came from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Maryland, Georgia, Alaska, California, Oregon and maybe more.
Some of the states had particular grievances, with the mix of recreational and commercial fishing interests morphing into unique mixes port to port, region to region, all with special needs.
Some protesters were mad at the proposals to fix the mess, mad at their colleagues for not fighting as hard as they might, mad at those who didn't show.
"This is about freedom," shouted Congressman Allen West, a Florida Democrat with a gospel preacher's voice. "Fishing law has been hijacked by extreme environmentalists."
The crowd roared.
The enthusiasm peaked with Gloucester's state Sen. Bruce Tarr recounting how his former colleague and now U.S. Sen. Scott Brown had "asked for Dr. Lubchenco to be removed."
Then Sen. Brown got up and did it all over again, reprising his now famous question. "What does it take to get fired at NOAA?" he asked as the fishermen chanted "No more Jane."
Retiring Congressman Barney Frank began reasoning that all voters should insist that their candidates vote "to get rid of the 10-year period" now imposed to fully restore overfished stocks. It is that deadline that pushed the catch share system championed by NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco.
"So when we come back next year it will be to celebrate, not to agitate," Frank said to a round of cheers. "How fast fish have sex is not a great environmental issue."
Nancy Gaines is a regular Times correspondent and a longtime writer and journalist with Boston and national publications. Additional rally coverage by staff writer Richard Gaines, her husband, will appear in tomorrow's print and online editions of the Gloucester Daily Times and gloucestertimes.com.