BOSTON — Nearly two dozen members of Congress are asking the U.S. commerce secretary to take emergency steps to increase new fishing catch limits.

The request to Secretary Gary Locke comes as Northeast fishermen prepare for a new way to manage the fishery, which goes into effect May 1.

The system allots a certain amount of each species to groups of fishermen – called sectors – to manage among themselves. If the sectors exceed their limit on any groundfish species, they must stop fishing for all species.

In the letter dated Wednesday, the lawmakers say limits on some species, such as pollock, are so low, fishermen could exceed their limit in one tow.

They asked for catch increases in these so-called “choke stocks” to prevent that.

The letter’s signees included 23 senators and representatives.