Regulators weigh 5-year southern NE lobstering ban

Boston, MA – Lobstermen in southern New England are facing a possible five-year fishing ban to help depleted stocks.
Biologists made the drastic recommendation to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission regulators. They acknowledge``catastrophic effects'' on local lobstermen, but say the move is needed to rebuild the lobster to sustainable levels.
But Rhode Island lobsterman Bill McElroy said Thursday it would be ``a death sentence'' to the industry in the southern New England region _ which extends from Cape Cod to North Carolina.
McElroy said lobstermen aren't overfishing, and believe a host of environmental problems explain what could just be a cyclical downturn.
The southern New England area once accounted for a quarter of the region's catch. Now it's down to as little as 5 percent after a lobster crash in the early 2000s that hasn't been explained.