By Richard Gaines
As it has been with banking, so it is with fishing.
That's the case Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate argued in a visit to Gloucester Friday, citing both of those fields as arenas in which the rich and powerful are becoming richer and more powerful, thanks to government policies that work against the working class.
In an interview at the Times, Warren cited as an example the way the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commodified the New England groundfishery in 2010 by careful "gaming" of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to avoid giving the fishermen a vote on whether they wanted to work in the catch share allocation system prepared by the government.
The referendum requirement was written into the Magnuson reauthorization in 2006. A stakeholders' federal lawsuit filed by the cities of Gloucester and New Bedford challenging Amendment 16, the framework for the catch share system, raises a similar challenge to Warren's, and is now before the First U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston, with oral arguments expected in the fall.
Since the introduction of the catch share system used by fishing cooperatives, equity in the groundfish market has consolidated rapidly with small boat businesses selling out or giving up.
"Hard-working people are getting the short end of the stick," said Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who is locked in a tight contest with Republican incumbent Scott Brown.
"Rules keep favoring those with power and money," said Warren.