, Gloucester, MA

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September 22, 2011

Top scientist, NOAA chief are Kerry fishing witnesses

NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco and Brian Rothschild — the distinguished scientist she chose not to name to head national marine fisheries — are among the witnesses listed to testify at Sen. John Kerry's long-awaited Senate Commerce Committee hearing Oct. 3 on the state's fishing industry.

Set to be held at the State House, the hearing format will "allow for direct questioning and analysis from the administration as well as both seasoned and fresh voices from Massachusetts' fishing and science communities," Kerry told the Times in a prepared statement issued Thursday.

Along with Lubchenco and Rothschild, from University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, the witness list includes: commercial fisherman Stephen P. Welch from Scituate, who regularly lands his catch in Gloucester; Paul Diodati, director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries; "Rip" Cunningham, Jr., acting chairman of the New England Fisheries Management Council; and Steve Cadrin, a professor of oceanography at UMass-Dartmouth.

Welch is also a member of the board of the Gloucester-based Northeast Seafood Coalition.

Cunningham last summer took umbrage at a widely read op-ed column by Rothschild that described the regulatory system as broken and incapable of voluntary reform, and the acting council chief penned a rejoinder that defended the performance of the council, an arm of NOAA's Northeast regional management.

Also scheduled to be a part of the hearing — as part of the panel with Kerry — are Sen. Scott Brown and Congressmen John Tierney, Barney Frank and William Keating, whose districts include the fishing ports of Massachusetts.

Tierney represents Gloucester and Cape Ann, Frank's district includes New Bedford and Fairhaven Keating has the ports south of Boston and along Cape Cod.

Cadrin, until this year, was chairman of the Science and Statistical Committee for the New England Fishery Management Council, and earlier this year moved into the center of an unresolved controversy with Lubchenco and the federal fisheries bureaucracy over the harm — or lack thereof — to the state's fishing communities by Amendment 16, the reorganzation of the groundfishery into a quasi commodities market that trades in fishermen's catch shares across 17 "sectors," or fishing business cooperatives.

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