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March 15, 2013

Senate candidate Lynch backs fish law 'flexibility'

Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Stephen Lynch Thursday sided with Congressmen John Tierney and William Keating on the need for greater flexibility in the impending rewrite of the Magnuson-Stevens Act — taking issue with the stand of Congressman Ed Markey, the other primary Democrat running for John Kerry’s former Senate seat this year.

Markey, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, testified at the opening of hearings in the rewrite of the law Wednesday that he believes it is amply flexible.

Lynch, of South Boston, also chastised Markey, dean of the delegation from Malden, for partisan rhetoric.

Lynch questioned Markey’s testimony, in which he blamed Republicans for hurting the fishing community.

“This exemplifies the problem we have in Washington right now,” Lynch said. “The left demonizes the right, the right demonizes the left, and petty politics trump action. The fishing families in Massachusetts don’t just have a problem with Republicans; they have a problem with NOAA and the New England Fishery Management Council.”

Lynch, who serves on Keating’s Federal Fishing Advisory Board alongside Tierney, said he agrees with Keating, Tierney, and former Congressman Barney Frank on the need for greater flexibility in catch limits and stock rebuilding schedules.

The 2006 re-authorization of the Magnuson Act imposes hard catch limits that, combined with 10-year rebuilding deadlines for overfished stocks, is widely seen as contributing to the draconian catch levels that brought the Northeast groundfishery to a state of “economic disaster,” as documented previously by Gov. Deval Patrick and recognized in September 2012 by acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank.

“We received a letter last month from 173 fisherman across New England who were pleading for help,” Lynch said. “These are hard-working people and their industry is being pushed to the brink by an overzealous environmental agenda that too often ignores the human cost of its actions.

“Soon, the small businesses will be gone and giant corporations will dominate the fishing industry,” Lynch added, “just like they do in telecommunications, energy, and too many other critical industries in Massachusetts.”

The special Senate primary election is April 30, and the special election is June 25.

Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at rgaines@gloucestertimes.com.

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