Saturday December 15, 2012

By JAY LINDSAY

Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- Five zones off the New England coast were closed to fishermen nearly two decades ago to protect deteriorating species. Now, a fishing industry in crisis wants to get back in.

Regional regulators will decide Thursday whether sectors of fishermen should be allowed to ask for permission to fish in the closed areas.

Fishermen say the closings are no longer needed. They add with regional fish populations limping along, there's little evidence closing areas works.

But others argue regulators are moving too fast. And they worry they may doom the fishery by exposing the last strongholds of healthy fish.

Federal regulators must approve requests to fish in closed areas. It all hinges on whether a pending analysis on the effects of opening the areas shows it would be OK.