AUGUSTA (AP) – Sen. Olympia Snowe’s staff met behind closed doors Friday with members of the New England Fishery Management Council.

The group discussed the impact new federal fishing regulations will have on Maine fishermen in advance of a meeting of the fishery council’s groundfish committee on Jan. 14-15 in Mansfield, Mass.

Participating in the meeting was Drew Minkiewicz, counsel for the Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on oceans, fisheries and the Coast Guard. Snowe is chairwoman of the subcomittee.

Snowe requested the meeting at the Edmund Muskie Federal Building to take another look at how Maine’s fishermen will be impacted by the regulations, known as Amendment 13.

The new rules that go into effect on May 1 were designed to help rebuild New England’s devastated stocks of cod and other bottom-dwelling fish.

Fishing restrictions were first placed on the fleet in 1993. Since then, boats have had their “days at sea” whittled away with each regulatory change; beginning in May, the start of the next fishing year, the average boat will be allowed to fish only 52 days.

Maine fishermen say the rules unfairly impact them because they have to travel farther than boats to the south to get to New England’s most productive fishing area, Georges Bank east of Cape Cod.

The affects are already being seen in Maine.

Some boats with long ties to Portland have started taking catches to Gloucester, Mass., and some fear the boats could ultimately have to move to Massachusetts permanently to avoid wasting travel time.

Also, a fishing gear supply store shut down in November and the port’s only ice supplier cut back hours of operation.

AP-ES-01-02-04 1805EST



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