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Government defends decision to deny flounder fishing order

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The U.S. Department of Commerce says its top official was right to reverse a decision about flounder fishing regulations made by an interstate commission.

The regulatory Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announced last month it had found New Jersey out of compliance with management of its fishery. But Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross disagreed and did not sign off on a ruling that could've forced a local moratorium on flounder fishing.

The move drew criticism from the commission and conservationists who say the decision overrides sustainable fishing rules on the East Coast. But a spokesman for the Commerce Department said Tuesday that Ross doesn't think a fishing moratorium is warranted.

The spokesman said Ross feels alternative measures implemented by New Jersey are adequate to protect the fish's population.

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