The top regulators of New England's flagging fishing industry are asking fishermen not to take out their frustrations at the onboard observers who monitor what they catch and what they throw back.

The request came in an open letter to fishing permit holders Thursday, a little over two weeks into a fishing year that saw the fleet take painful cuts in catch limits.

Rip Cunningham, chair of the New England Fishery Management Council, said observers have reported increased verbal abuse in recent month. He said the letter, which he signed, is a reminder that such anger is misdirected.

The letter acknowledges the ``challenging times,'' but it emphasizes trying to resolve differences in constructive ways.

It said the observers are blameless for the industry's current problems.  (Associated Press)