BOSTON — Federal regulators are still saying they can’t reduce massive cuts on catch limits for key New England fish species, despite heavy pressure from Massachusetts lawmakers.

New England fishermen face huge cuts, including a 77 percent year-to-year reduction in the catch limit for cod in the Gulf of Maine as of the May 1 start of the fishing year.

Fishermen say the cuts will be devastating and argue regulators can extend emergency measures that would greatly reduce the cuts on cod and other species. Several dozen Massachusetts lawmakers asked regulators to reconsider, saying it’s legally permissible and citing doubts about the science behind the cuts.

But in a letter last week, the Northeast’s top regulator, John Bullard, said reducing the cuts is both illegal and imprudent, because the fish population is in bad shape.