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Wednesday July 27, 2011 | 05:01 PM

The Senate delegations of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have a bipartisan message for federal fishery management regulators: use some common sense.

In a letter spearheaded by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, the top Republican on the Senate commerce committee’s subcommittee on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries and Coast Guard, the senators tell a top regulator that the 15-month-old fishery management plan needs to be adjusted to give fishermen more predictability in how they manage their businesses and go about their harvesting practices.

Among what Snowe, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and the other New England senators tell Eric Schwab, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assistant administrator for fisheries, is that regulators should examine ways to make the at-sea system for monitoring what fishermen harvest more affordable and to evaluate whether existing regulations remain “relevant and necessary” to protect the ocean’s resources and allow for more flexibility when possible.

Among those also signing the letter: Democratic Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

"In an environment in which the regulator, as stakeholders have repeatedly stated, ‘no longer has any focus on economic growth of the industry,' many fishermen are rightfully frustrated that federal regulations are working against their efforts to simultaneously sustain fisheries for future generations while optimizing their harvests in the near term," Snowe said in a release about the letter.  "Working in conjunction with fishermen whose livelihoods depend on the health of the fisheries, NOAA can address these concerns through specific operational changes that will build upon and enhance the current system."

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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