CONTACT:
John Nelson: (603) 868-1095
Jane Vachon: (603) 332-3211
March 15, 2005


New England Marine Fishing Regulations Upheld

DURHAM, N.H. -- The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on March 9, 2005, against a broad-based legal action and upheld large sections of New England's recently enacted fishing regulations designed to protect stocks from over-fishing while still meeting commercial fishermen's needs. The Court remanded one issue concerning by-catch reporting to the government for reconsideration.

The regulations, known as Amendment 13, scaled back the number of fishing days and closed some fishing grounds. They have been an ongoing point of contention between fishermen, who found them too limiting, and environmental groups, which asserted that they were inadequate. Developed by the New England Fisheries Management Council, the rules went into effect last May 1. In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said she wanted to issue her decision before the fishing season begins this May.

The Court found that Amendment 13 reflects the Council's and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce's painstaking efforts to achieve a delicate balance that rebuilds stocks and ends over-fishing, while allowing fishermen to continue fishing those stocks that are healthy. The ruling determined that Amendment 13 is, with limited exception, reasonable and in accordance with law.

"Amendment 13 appropriately takes into account the needs of the both the fishery stocks and our local fishing communities," said John Nelson, Chief of New Hampshire Fish and Game's Marine Fisheries Division. "We're pleased that the Court agreed with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries -- that sufficient programs and alternatives to protect fishery stocks have been considered, and a more austere program is not needed at this time."

For more information, contact the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Marine Fisheries Division at (603) 868-1095.

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