Federal regulators are deciding the scope of a proposed management plan for thousands of square miles of New England waters that has deeply divided fishermen and conservationists.
The New England Fishery Management Council is working on the long-awaited plan for federal waters from Maine to Rhode Island. The final version of the plan could come up for a vote by April.
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The plan includes a host of options, including opening areas closed to fishing and adding new restrictions to open areas. Some options would change protections to Cashes Ledge, an ecosystem conservationists want to preserve.
The council held the last of a series of public hearings about the plan on Wednesday in Portland. Maine Lobstermen's Association Executive Director Patrice McCarron said some options could have "tremendous economic impact" on fisheries.