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(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter today met with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to urge him to take immediate emergency action to increase catch limits on New Hampshire fishermen.  New regulations, which went into effect on May 1, impose sharp reductions from 2009 catch limits and have put New Hampshire's small boat fleet at risk.

"These low catch limits threaten the future of New Hampshire's fishing fleet and we need to do everything we can to help this important Seacoast industry," said Shaheen.  "As I told Secretary Locke today, it is of vital importance that catch limits are increased immediately so our fishermen aren't overburdened during this already difficult economic time.  I will continue to push for a swift and fair resolution to this problem for New Hampshire fishermen."

"The bipartisan group from the Senate and the House share the belief that our fishing industry is critical to our local economies, and stressed that the time for action is now," said Shea-Porter.  "After years of increasingly tough regulations, our fishermen have reached a breaking point.  We must protect the environment, but we also must protect our local fishermen and the small businesses that rely on their product.  We asked the Secretary to move quickly and take action to help save our fishing industry."

The low allocations provided to New Hampshire fishermen, especially for so-called "choke stocks" like pollock, yellowtail flounder, and winter flounder, completely grounded many New Hampshire boats before the fishing season began. Without an increase in these choke stocks, even more New Hampshire boats will have to stop operating early in the fishing season.

In addition, Shaheen and Shea-Porter urged Secretary Locke to speed up the distribution of critically needed funds to fishermen, including assistance for permit banking and sector management costs, and to support emergency funding for direct financial assistance to fishing communities that have been hit hard by these low allocations.

Shaheen and Shea-Porter were joined at today's meeting by a bipartisan congressional delegation representing the coastline from Maine to Long Island.  The delegation unanimously voiced strong disagreement with the new catch limits and urged Secretary Locke to take swift action.