Government Proposes Changes in Fishing Rulesby Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press
Environmental News Network, June 23, 2005
WASHINGTON -- New guidelines aimed at preventing overfishing were proposed Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The proposal is designed to guide the local and regional fishery councils that set the rules to prevent overfishing and help rebuild fish stocks in various parts of the country ranging from New England to the Gulf Coast and Pacific Ocean.
The proposal, which will be open to public comment until Aug. 22 before being finalized, drew prompt criticism from conservationists who contend the changes would weaken fish protections.
"These safeguards are in place for a reason and they should not be watered down," said Matt Rand of Conserve Our Ocean Legacy.
Federal officials said the changes would strengthen the ability to protect fish stocks.
Bill Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries Service, said, "The new guidelines will result in more immediate benefits to marine ecosystems while maintaining a reasonable amount of flexibility to address the needs of fishing communities."
Among the proposed changes:
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