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October 11, 2011

AG set to testify at state fisheries hearing

The state legislative Subcommittee on Catch Shares and Fisheries Management holds a public hearing this morning at the State House that features testimony from Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Also expected to testify are industry attorneys Stephen Ouellette and Paul Muniz of Gloucester and Pamela Lafrenierie of New Bedford, all of whom have at the center of the resistance to the policies of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration policies.

The subcommittee hearing is scheduled to run from 10:30 a.m. to noon in hearing room B-2.

Presiding will be Christopher Markey, a Dartmouth Democrat and chairman of the subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee.

Coakley last month sought from NOAA a trove of documents that previously were sought by yet not provided to U.S. Sens. Scott Brown and John Kerry. The documents were described as bearing on controversial decisions not to punish or fire anyone involved in the documented NOAA law enforcement abuses of the fishing industry.

At Kerry's Commerce Committee hearing at the State House last week, NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco indicated that Commerce Department Chief Counsel Cameron Kerry — the senator's brother — was prepared to provide a classified briefing to senators on the law enforcement punishment problem.

Ouellette and Lafraniere were co-lead counselors in the lawsuit challenging the NOAA catch share program for the New England groundfishery, now in its second year.

The suit was appealed after a federal judge gave the government a full victory over industry claims.

Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at rgaines@gloucestertimes.com.

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