GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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February 26, 2010

Kerry to fishermen: 'Lubchenco your friend'

U.S. Sen. John Kerry is out of step with the majority of his Massachusetts colleagues when it comes to the solution of the fishing crisis that brought a large insurgency to Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

Nearly all Kerry's congressional colleagues with fishing communities in their districts have announced support for a partial rewrite of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that would eliminate a requirement that all overfished stocks be restored at the same moment.

Kerry has avoided hinting at his opinion on that initiative, which was the main reason for the gathering of at least 5,000 people from fishing communities on all three of the nation's coasts, Wednesday at the Capitol.

Massachusetts Congressmen Barney Frank, John Tierney, Michael Capuano and newly elected U.S. Sen Scott Brown have all announced their support of Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act, a bill that would add flexibility to Magnuson. At the end of the rally, the Recreation Fishing Alliance, the demonstration's lead sponsor, said there were eight federal senators and 30 congressmen backing the bill.

Over the past year, an informal consensus has developed behind the need to add flexibility to Magnuson. The act's rigid rebuilding timeline, combined with tight catch limits, have threatened the survival of countless commercial and recreational fishermen. The rally was a demonstration of the unanimous belief in the need for flexibility.

Asked for a statement about his position on Magnuson, Kerry yesterday released a statement that said "there were clear problems facing the industry that needed solution."

"Yesterday I met with more than 50 Massachusetts fishermen who came to Washington to share what's happening to them and their families. They're getting whacked hard right now and it's wrong. They're absolutely right that there should be a moratorium on pending enforcement cases against fishermen and I share their concerns about the enforcement of federal regulations," he said in the statement. "Now I'm coordinating a meeting between fishermen and federal authorities to resolve these concerns as soon as humanly possible."

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