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Advocates belonging to the fishing industry, who, in March, filled a courtroom in Boston hoping that they can convince a federal judge to throw out the new rules that establish catch limits, received a blunt message from one of the opposing lawyers. The lawyer said that if the advocates are serious about change, then they are in the wrong building.
James Maysonett, the Department of Justice lawyer, told U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel, “They need to take that up with Congress.”
Zobel ruled against the industry last month, which prompted to heed the advice of Maysonett and attempt to change the fishery law through Congressional legislation in Washington.
Observers say, however, that such move is not a walk in the park. A Magnuson-Stevens Act amendment is perceived to be a huge undertaking with a vague outcome. Recently, legislative wins and backing from high-profile lawmakers from Massachusetts such as Rep. Barney Frank, as well as Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown, have been gained by fishermen. However, that political pull is weakened by a legislative process that needed support of lawmakers coming from inland states where the influence of the fishing industry is very minimal.
Erik Anderson, a fisherman from New Hampshire and the head of New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen’s Association, is already aware of the odds. Nevertheless, he is banking on some help from lawmakers. He said, “It’s the only bit of hope that we have that they can come in and make some sense out of this.”