By BRUCE SMITH
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Federal regulators want more information before expanding areas where bottom fishing is prohibited along the Southeast coast.
A proposal before a committee of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Charleston would have established 12 new Marine Protected Areas to go with eight already off the coast.
But the committee on Wednesday decided to get additional information from the U.S. Marine Fisheries Service on how the existing areas are working before adding more.
The proposal sought to 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 rebuild stocks of speckled hind and warsaw grouper.
Council spokeswoman Kim Iverson says the agency will revisit the issue at its December meeting.