Massachusetts senator pledges support for fishing industry

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Two years ago Jane Derego's husband, a Fairhaven, Mass., lobsterman, suffered a stroke and can no longer work. His boat is in storage and because of an unresponsive bureaucracy his wife said she has been unable to sell his fishing permit for some desperately needed funds.

Derego broke down as she shared her ordeal with Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., as he met last week with a group of about two dozen fishermen's wives at the Seaport Inn and Marina in Fairhaven, according to the New Bedford Standard Times.

Brown vowed to investigate and pledged to continue his support for the struggling sectors of the fishing industry in Massachusetts.

"Apart from veterans issues, it's my No. 1 priority," Brown told the newspaper.

The informal gathering was chaired by Brown's wife, Gail Huff, on leave from her job at a TV station in Washington, D.C., to aid in his bid for re-election to the Senate in a race against Elizabeth Warren. Brown was elected in a special election, taking over the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat in 2010.

"Fishing is the first thing Scott sank his teeth into when he got elected," Huff told the women, whose husbands work in local fisheries, such as groundfishing, inshore and offshore lobstering.

The issues raised at the meeting were familiar ones and included complaints about flawed science used to estimate fish stocks; low catch limits; rising industry costs; and the wildly fluctuating prices fishermen get for their catch.

The lack of trust between fishermen and regulators is a fundamental problem that must be addressed, Brown said.

"Industry must be given a seat at the table. The people in Washington don't have the working knowledge of what's out there," the newspaper reported Brown saying.

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