Regulators taking up bottom fishing proposal

A plan to add more areas where bottom fishing is prohibited along the Southeast coast is being considered by federal regulators meeting in South Carolina.

One item on the agenda at the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's meeting this week is a proposal establishing 12 new Marine Protected Areas.

If approved, it would add about 300 more square miles to the area off limits to bottom fishing, expanding the prohibited zone to 1,100 square miles. The move is designed to help stocks of speckled hind and warsaw grouper recover from overfishing.

Fishermen could still fish on the surface in the protected areas. The additional areas were proposed by a committee of fishermen and scientists.

Any changes in the protected areas would be the subject of future public hearings.