ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A group of Bering Sea crab fishermen has lost an appeal to federal regulators to override the state Department of Fish and Game's decision to sharply reduce this spring's snow crab catch limit.
The crabbers felt the cut was too severe.
But Penelope Dalton, administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, ruled that Fish and Game -- which manages the fishery in an agreement with the federal government -- acted properly.
Biologists with the agency set this year's catch limit at only about 15 percent of last year's limit.
That came after ocean surveys revealed a sharp downturn in the number of young crab in the Bering Sea.
Fishermen led by Gary Painter of Newport, Ore., appealed. They argued in part that the weeklong April snow crab season produced surprisingly strong catch rates.
Crabbers said they expected to lose the appeal. They plan to concentrate on a federal lawsuit they filed in Seattle seeking to force federal regulators to boost the catch limit and reopen the crab fishery this summer.
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