GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Latest Cape Ann News

August 17, 2011

State AG backs push for feds to repay fishing legal costs

The state's attorney general has called upon Congress to pass federal legislation aimed at reimbursing local fishermen for the legal bill they have incurred while appealing excessive fined and penalties imposed by NOAA enforcement as documented by a federal inspector general and special investigator for the U.S. Commerce Department.

In letters sent to the Chairmen of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Attorney General Coakley expressed her support for two bills filed by Sen. and Commerce committee chief John Kerry and by Congressman Barney Frank that would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the regulatory framework that governs America's fisheries from Gloucester and New England to the West Coast and Alaska.

The bills were filed following an investigation by a federal Inspector General Todd Zinser — and expanded by retired U.S. Judge Robert B. Swartwood III as a special investigative master assigned by former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke — both of whom found that the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration enforcement engaged in excessive practices that included the filing of a false affidavit, an unauthorized, after-hours entry into the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction, and fines that have run up to 500 percent higher than those levied in other parts of the country.

The Frank and Kerry bills would establish a formal process to reimburse fishermen and related businesseas for legal fees incurred while appealing those excessive fines.

"The livelihood of fishermen and the economies of our fishing communities have been greatly harmed by the excessive penalties levied by NOAA, and an appeals process that stacked the decks against them," Coakley said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "These two pieces of legislation are important steps toward restoring fairness and reimbursing our fishermen for the legal fees they incurred while challenging those unfair penalties. I commend Sen. Kerry and Congressman Frank for their leadership on this important issue."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow