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Feds lay out cuts in catch limits seen as devastating to Northeast fishing industry

Federal fisheries managers have officially announced proposed cuts in catch limits that they acknowledge will devastate the New England fleet.

The size of the proposed cuts have been known for weeks, but are now open for public comment until April 15. The 2013 fishing season starts May 1.

The cuts include a 77 percent year-to-year reduction in the allowed catch of cod in the Gulf of Maine and a 61 percent cut on Georges Bank cod.

The cuts come after poor assessments of the health of cod and other key species. Fishermen say the reductions will force most of the fleet out of business.

Regulators have offered measures to mitigate the reductions and are also now proposing to allow access to winter flounder in southern New England waters. Regulators say could bring in $5 million in revenues.

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