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Feds Release Report On Northeast Fishing System

A report on the first year of a controversial new fishery management system indicates Northeast fishermen are continuing to fish and catch less, while revenues are becoming increasing concentrated in fewer hands.

The report released Wednesday by federal regulators also indicates prices jumped in the 2010 fishing year.

The new system, which began in May 2010, sees most fishermen grouped in "sectors" that share an allotted catch. The aim is more autonomy for fishermen, but some say the system is tilted toward bigger operations.

Terri Frady of the U.S. Fisheries Service says it's too soon to tell whether the new "catch share" system is exacerbating that trend.

"We're hopeful that we'll be able to tell more about why that's happening and what it really means, in a report we're probably going to issue this fall, that will have more of the cost information — how much it actually costs to fish — which can tell you more about profits," Frady said.

The report out Wednesday indicates revenues from groundfish, such as cod, fell between 2009 and 2010 from about $85 million to $83 million and the number of fishing trips fell from about 26,000 to 14,000. Average prices rose from $1.23 a pound to $1.44.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on September 21, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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