WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. John Kerry and three Massachusetts fishing coast congressmen yesterday urged a halt to all fishing industry prosecutions while an Inspector General’s investigation continues into alleged misconduct by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration enforcement agents and prosecutors.

Kerry, along with Reps. Barney Frank, John Tierney and William Delahunt, wrote to NOAA chief administrator Jane Lubchenco, saying a delay is warranted because pending cases could be "tainted by the actual or perceived problems with the office of law enforcement or the general counsel’s office."

"Given the disquieting findings of the January 2010 Department of Commerce Office of the Inspector General’s review … a hold on these cases seems warranted," the letter from Kerry and the congressmen said. "As you are aware, the IG report found troubling discrepancies in enforcement, fines, and penalties by OLE and GCEL.

"We are grateful that your office has taken a leadership role on this issue with your follow-up directives of February 3, 2010, but hope immediate action may be taken on the pending enforcement cases.

"In the interest of fairness and transparency, we respectfully request that you immediately place all pending enforcement cases on hold until further investigation by your office and the OIG."

Lawmakers: Put hold on NOAA – GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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