NE Senators Protest Proposed Fishing Rules

Seven New England senators have protested rules proposed for the upcoming fishing year, vowing not to allow the National Marine Fisheries Service to "regulate our nation's first fishery out of existence."

A letter was sent to the federal agency Tuesday by both senators in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine, as well as Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire.

To protect threatened groundfish stocks such as cod and flounder, the fisheries service has proposed rules - to go into effect in May - that would cut allotted fishing days, close new regions to fishing and count one fishing day as two in many areas.

The senators said the fisheries service has ignored a requirement to consider the financial health of the fishing community when making new rules because the proposed regulations "will bankrupt a fishery that has sustained New England's coastal communities for generations."

NMFS spokeswoman Maggie Mooney-Seus said the agency would respond to the letter when it releases the final regulations.

She said the proposed rules are designed to protect improvements already made in the health of vulnerable fish stocks and set the fishery up for future gains.

"We don't want to undermine the hard work and sacrifice already undertaken by the industry to get to this point," Mooney-Seus said.

This program aired on February 19, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.