Five areas of ocean long closed to certain kinds of fishing may now be reopened after a vote by New England regulators.

The decision Thursday by the New England Fishery Management Council allows sectors of groundfishermen to ask federal regulators for permission to fish parts of the areas.

The Northeast's top federal regulator, John Bullard, has expressed strong support for allowing the access, though he says there needs to be protection for weak fish stocks and fish habitat.

The areas were originally closed starting in the 1990s to protect bottom-dwelling groundfish, such as cod or haddock. Some say the areas are now a final refuge for struggling species, and fishermen shouldn't be allowed in.

But fishermen say access will be limited and is needed to help them survive huge cuts in catch in 2013.  (Associated Press)


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