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News Release

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2009

Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter C. L. Roth
(603) 271-1270

Federal District Court Suspends Restrictions on New Hampshire Fisheries and Orders Further Analysis and Consideration

Today the federal court in Boston ruled in favor of New Hampshire and Massachusetts finding that the regulations which had greatly hampered New Hampshire fisheries would be suspended for 60 days and ordering the federal government to conduct further research and analysis of its regulations to see if alternative measures should have been used.

The State of New Hampshire and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts together brought suit against the United States Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service in late 2006. The suit challenged Framework 42 of the fisheries management plan, a new set of regulations of the groundfish fishery in the Gulf of Maine. Among the new regulations was one requiring that fishermen fishing in the inshore area of the Gulf of Maine use their days at sea at the rate of 2 to 1. It was expected and has been the case that this would have a devastating and disproportionate impact on New Hampshire's fishing fleet because of its use of these fishing grounds. In the summer of 2008, New Hampshire and Massachusetts filed motions in the case for a ruling.

The Court ruled that an important exception in the federal rules related to optimum yield in a mixed stock fishery should have been considered because otherwise the exception would be reduced to "window dressing." The Court also found that the federal government's reasons for not doing so in the first instance were "without merit".

"We are happy that the federal court has ruled that Framework 42 needs to be reassessed because of its severe impacts on New Hampshire's fishermen," announced Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. "We hope that the federal government will use this opportunity to carefully review the rules to restore some of the fishing opportunities that the rules deprived our fleet and New Hampshire's economy."

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New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658