NEW BEDFORD — The impending reauthorization of the federal laws governing commercial fisheries has mobilized environmentalists who contend that any relaxation of existing rules amounts to capitulation to reckless fishing interests and endangerment to the fish populations.

Since 1996 the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Act has been the underpinning of rebuilding fish stocks across the United States, say powerful non-profit environmental groups and their backers. Relaxing the rules now would be disastrous, they argue.

The online newsletter Seafood News editorialized that the bill that has emerged from the GOP-controlled Natural Resources Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives could be renamed the "Destabilization of Our Nation's Fisheries Act."

"What has made U.S. Fisheries Management the singular success it has been, and the most sustainable fisheries management regime globally, has the basic commitment to put science ahead of politics for rebuilding and allocating fisheries," wrote Seafood News.

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