Sixth Congressional District Republican candidate Richard Tisei on Friday described his opponent, incumbent John Tierney, as Congressman Barney Frank’s junior partner in fighting for the fishing industry, and promised, if elected, to make the cause his top priority.
Addressing the fishing industry in Gloucester for the first time, Tisei described Tierney as “tagging along” with Frank, who is retiring this year from Congress. Frank has represented the Fourth District, including the fishing port New Bedford, since 1981.
“He (Tierney) has not done a lot of outreach. Looking at the history, Tierney is always reacting,” Tisei said the campaign stop on the HarborWalk near St. Peter’s Park.
Tisei and Tierney, an eight-term incumbent Democrat, are locked in a tight race.
In the four years of the Democratic Obama administration, which brought to office NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco and a spate of policies that sparked a spontaneous resistance along the entire set of coasts, emanating from Massachusetts, Tierney and Frank have formed a strategic team to combat its national policies.
Frank took fisheries management as his area of leadership while Tierney focused on fighting against law enforcement excesses and violations against members of the industry.
Both congressmen voted against the 2007 re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries and Conservation Act, which required hard catch limits with penalties for overfished stocks. Superimposed on the requirement of an earlier re-authorization for 10-year rebuilding programs, the re-authorization meant minuscule catch limits, which helped propel the industry into economic failure.
Frank and Tierney also teamed up to file a legal brief in support of a lawsuit by the cities of Gloucester and New Bedford and many fishing interest that was argued last month before the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The suit challenged the legality of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regulatory move to convert the groundfishery into a commodity market trading in catch shares.
The court is expected to rule on the challenge by early next year.
The law enforcement system was exposed early in the Obama administration for years of abusing fishermen with excessive fines and improper charges.
Tierney brought a field hearing of a congressional subcommittee to Gloucester in March 2010 at which the Commerce Department inspector general testified that the then director of law enforcement at NOAA had improperly used the fund of fines paid by fishermen — the Asset Forfeiture Fund — to finance improper foreign travel.
After losing any confidence in her leadership, Tierney, Frank, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Congressman Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, have called for Lubchenco’s dismissal.
Tierney and Frank along with a sizeable minority of Democrats supported Jones’ amendment in 2010 and 2011 to halt funding for new catch share programs.
Tisei proposed a time limit for responding to fishery disaster filings — “either 60 or 90 days” — and also proposed that fines paid by fishermen should be dedicated to improving fisheries science.
“The science is not very accurate,” said Tisei. “One year there’s an abundance of cod, and the next there’s a shortage.”
Tisei was referring to the last two full stock assessments of Gulf of Maine cod. The 2008 assessment found the overfished stock was rebounding powerfully, providing regulators with the foundation for liberalized catch levels, only to be told in the 2011 benchmark assessment that the stock was much weaker than previously known.
The news meant a 22 percent cut in the catch limit for this year and a potential shutdown of the entire inshore fishery next year, pending another unexpected result from an emergency stock assessment that is underway with results expected by January.
“John Tierney is the only candidate in this race who has been fighting for fishermen and their families for years,” said Tierney’s campaign spokesman Grant Herring.
“Throughout his career he has pushed for action in Congress on the critical issues facing our community, even spearheaded a congressional hearing in Gloucester to spotlight NOAA law enforcement abuses. More than two years ago, John called for the removal of the head of NOAA, Jane Lubchenco, and has stood up to the last two administrations and Congress every time he believes too little has been done to provide flexibility and fairness for our fishermen. He worked on getting inspector general reports, $650,000 in reparations for economically injured fishermen.
“Mr. Tisei is late to the game and offers only rhetoric,” Herring added.
Jim Bordinaro, a lifetime resident of Gloucester, whose family has been in the Gloucester fishing business since the 1930s, introduced Tisei at Friday’s campaign stop. Bordinaro is the vice president of Channel Fish Processing Co. in Gloucester.
Tisei will be holding a town hall meeting with voters at The Gloucester House Restaurant, 63 Rogers St. at 10 this morning.
Richard Gaines may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3456, or firstname.lastname@example.org.