BOSTON — A group of Massachusetts lawmakers is urging congressional leaders not to fund the federal “catch shares” fishery management program until fish catch limits are raised.

Some New England fishermen say catch limits are set too low to allow them to make a living. Last month, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for emergency increases.

Patrick said a report by state scientists showed fishermen faced an “economic disaster,” but could safely catch 14,500 metric tons more groundfish.

U.S. Rep. John Tierney, who spearheaded the letter, said it’s “unacceptable” that Locke hasn’t acted.

In the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the lawmakers urged Congress to “assert itself” to protect fishermen.

An e-mail request for comment to a Commerce spokesman wasn’t immediately returned.