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February 24, 2012

Kerry, Brown to speak at fishing rally

Both Massachusetts' U.S. senators, Democrat John Kerry and Republican Scott Brown, have accepted invitations to speak at the second multi-coastal fishermen's rally, titled "Keep Fishermen Fishing," in Washington, D.C. on March 21.

Kerry has long been engaged in fisheries issues, but was not one of the two dozen federal lawmakers to participate in the 2010 "United We Fish" D.C, rally which galvanized a general resistance along the coasts to Obama administration fisheries policies and launched a movement to modify the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

The Magnuson act is the primary instrument of ocean resource conservation and regulated economic exploitation. The law requires that overfished stocks be rebuilt on a 10-year timeline. It is a requirement that the administration's top fisheries official, NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, has conceded cannot be defended ecologically, and is seen by critics as the reason for overly restrictive catch limits as regulators limit harvesting to meet rebuilding deadlines.

"Sen. Kerry believes that additional flexibility is needed to help our fishermen," said his spokeswoman, Whitney Smith.

"We would be honored to have Sen. Kerry attend the rally in support of pragmatic Magnuson reform," said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance and the rally's chief organizer. "This is a jobs issue for U.S. recreational and commercial fishing industry folks."

Brown, who won a special election in January 2010 to replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, had just been sworn in at the time of the "United We Fish" rally in late February 2010 at the side of the Capitol, but made a surprise appearance, in which he promised to educate himself about fisheries.

From there, Brown threw himself into the industry's fight with the Obama administration that intensified over the two years since the initial event which drew around 5,000 industry representatives from all four coasts — the Atlantic, the Gulf, the Pacific and the Alaskan Pacific and Bering Sea.

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