- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Federal regulators recommended a host of emergency restrictions to protect the Gulf of Maine’s declining cod fishery on Wednesday, including expansions to existing inshore spawning closures.

The federal New England Fishery Management Council’s Groundfish Oversight Committee recommended a battery of changes, including one restriction that would prohibit fishing by private recreational and charter boats in the spawning closure areas.

The committee also recommended new prohibitions on some commercial groundfishing vessels, and requested a review of the extent of cod bycatch in the lobster fishery.

The amount of cod spawning in the Gulf is estimated at only 3 to 4 percent of its target level, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has said. That number represents a decline from 13 to 18 percent three years ago.

The New England Fishery Management Council is working on new management measures for the fish. The full council will consider the ground fish committee’s emergency recommendation at its meeting in about two weeks.

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