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Lawmakers Urge Commerce Secretary To Raise Fishing Limits

Members of Congress from Northeast fishing states have met with the U.S. Commerce Secretary to ask for increases in fishing catch limits.

But Secretary Gary Locke didn't commit to any emergency increases during the meeting Wednesday in Washington.

Twenty-three members of Congress requested the meeting with Locke last month, before a May 1 switch to a new system of fishing. Under the change, if a group of fishermen exceed a strict fishing limit on one species, they must stop fishing for all species.

The lawmakers said limits on some species were so low, it would prematurely shut down many fishermen.

Rep. Barney Frank, who was at the meeting, said Wednesday that Locke must step in. He said failing to act would damage fishing communities and undermine the new system.

"You know, we're in a recession, and the kind of cutbacks that fishing is facing will drastically retard the efforts to deal with the recession," Frank said. "We're not just talking about fishermen who will go out of work, but the onshore activity they support."

Frank says even environmentalists were arguing for increasing catch limits at the meeting.

"We all understand the need for restrictions on fishing, so do the fishermen," he said. "No one's talking about unrestricted fishing. The question is, do you need to accomplish all of these goals instantly? Is there a little give?"

Earlier:

This program aired on May 12, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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