PORTLAND, Maine — A White House pledge to veto proposed changes to federal fishing laws has divided fishermen over whether the rule changes should be saved or scrapped.
U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, has proposed a bill to change the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to provide fishery managers with more flexibility in rebuilding fish stocks. The bill includes a provision that fishery regulators should be able to consider the "economic needs of the fishing communities" in setting annual catch limits.
The White House has said the administration "strongly opposes" the changes and President Barack Obama's senior advisers would recommend a veto if the bill to authorize them passes. White House officials said Young's changes would undermine efforts to prevent overfishing and "impose arbitrary and unnecessary requirements that would harm the environment and the economy."
The criticism has sparked heated debate among fishermen, some of whom believe the bill would give regional management councils more flexibility when they set the rules for fishermen. Others celebrated the veto promise and said they fear Young's bill would undo years of work to rebuild fish stocks under the current Magnuson-Stevens Act.
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