As waters warm off the coast of New England, black sea bass are moving north and, fishermen say, threatening the region's most valuable aquatic species: the lobster.

The influx of sea bass — among a number of species that are appearing in greater numbers off of Maine and New Hampshire as ocean temperatures climb — has some fishermen and lobstermen saying the best solution is to ease restrictions on catching the newcomers.

The sea bass prey on lobsters, a much more economically important commercial species and a key piece of New England's culture, and quotas that have drifted downward in recent years should be increased, fishermen said.

"What we need is a major increase in the allowable catch, both commercially and recreationally, because black sea bass are wiping out your lobsters," said Marc Hoffman, a Long Island, New York, recreational bass fisherman.

Hoffman, who sits on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission advisory panel for sea bass, said the time to raise the quota is overdue. He said it is particularly important in southern New England waters, where fishing managers say the population of lobsters has fallen to the lowest levels on record.

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