Our View: Remembering Bill Delahunt’s Advocacy

by The Cape Cod Chronicle

When Congressman Gerry Studds retired, we wondered whether the region would ever have another strong advocate in Washington for small-scale sustainable fisheries and vibrant waterfronts. His successor, Bill Delahunt, deserves credit for carrying on that fight during his 14 years in office. Mr. Delahunt died over the weekend at the age of 82.

Thanks to his own stint in the U.S. Coast Guard, Mr. Delahunt had a particular passion for ensuring that the units in his district had the tools they needed to carry out the Coast Guard’s expanding mission. He lobbied to restore staffing to Station Chatham and others in his district, and he listened when local mariners complained about plans to decommission the station’s venerable 44-foot motor lifeboats before a suitable replacement was in place. He lobbied for funds to replace the service’s aging radio equipment, which created a gap east of Cape Cod where distress calls couldn’t be reliably heard. (Given his personal pride in the Coast Guard, Rep. Delahunt would surely be disappointed to find that, since his departure from the legislature, Station Chatham has been repeatedly downgraded and has lost its surf rescue capability.)

He was a friend to fishermen, bringing his voice and his organizing skills to bear on complex regulatory issues. He understood the value of day boat fisheries, both in supporting the local economy and in sustaining the marine ecosystem.

Even as he worked hard on national and global issues of criminal justice, foreign affairs and human rights, Mr. Delahunt helped secure resources that improved the lives of constituents at home. Working with Senator Edward Kennedy, a mentor, Mr. Delahunt helped secure scarce funding for the dredging of local ports, as well as financial relief for shellfishermen put out of work by red tide outbreaks. Together, they worked to obtain $1.7 million to help preserve a large tract of land along Muddy Creek in Harwich. The list of his local accomplishments was long.

Bill Delahunt remembered us, his constituents. We will remember him.