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March 27, 2013

Votes separate Markey, Lynch on fisheries

On fisheries, the differences between Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch, candidates for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by John Kerry in late January, were exposed in a dramatic vote by the House in February 2011.

A short-lived bipartisan coalition that night glued onto a continuing budget resolution an amendment from North Carolina Republican Walter Jones that barred the Obama administration from expanding its signature fishing industry innovation — the creation of new catch share fisheries and their commodity quote trading markets — beyond the mix of the Northeast groundfishery that, now three years into the new system, is in a recognized state of economic disaster.

When the roll call on the Jones amendment was completed that morning — at 1:44 a.m. — Markey of Malden, a member since 1976, the dean of the delegation, was with the White House, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and the array of investor, economic and commercial interests behind the Environmental Defense Fund that had lobbied and campaigned for catch shares throughout the second Bush presidency until they succeeded under Barack Obama in 2009.

But on this night, through the efforts of Congressmen Barney Frank and John Tierney as co-sponsors of the Jones amendment — and with only Markey and a retired representative from state’s western-most district holding out against the rest of the 10 member delegation — the anti-catch share insurgency carried the House 259-159. Frank, Tierney, Lynch and five other members of the delegation were among 51 Democrats that made up the rare, winning bipartisan coalition.

“I have a very difficult time with catch shares,” said Lynch, who campaigned in Gloucester last Saturday, accompanied by his guide, former city councilor Christine Rasmussen. ““They favor multi-national economic fishing interests at the expense of the small family fisherman, and are largely driven by ideology,” he added in a telephone interview Tuesday.

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