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Lawmakers Push For More Aid For Mass. Fishermen

BOSTON (AP) a¿¿ U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is joining other Massachusetts elected officials in pressing for more relief for the state's fishing industry, which she said has been harmed by catch limits imposed by the federal government.

"It's not a disaster because the fishermen did anything wrong it's a disaster because they followed exactly what the government asked them to do," Warren said.

Warren also said she's not comfortable with the science that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has relied on to set catch limits.

Warren made her comments following a hearing at the Statehouse on Monday. She was joined by fellow U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, other elected officials and industry representatives.

New England fishermen say the industry faces collapse because of the limits, which reduce the cod catch to just a fraction of its historical totals.

The catch reductions that went into effect May 1 include a 78 percent year-to-year reduction in quota on cod in the Gulf of Maine and 55 percent on yellowtail flounder in the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod.

Last week the federal Small Business Administration announced it would provide disaster loans to fishermen and Warren said she's hopeful the aid can survive budget negotiations in Washington.

In September, Gov. Deval Patrick officially certified that Massachusetts fishermen who chase bottom-dwelling groundfish had suffered "substantial economic injury."

The Statehouse session comes as Congress weighs the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the law that regulates fishing in the United States.

U.S. Sen. Begich, an Alaska Democrat and chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard also attended the session.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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