Apology given, fishing fines returned after probe

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The U.S. Commerce Secretary on Tuesday ordered $650,000 in unjust fines returned to Northeast commercial fishermen, while the nation's oceans chief apologized to the group and said restoring the money marks a turning point in their tense relationship.

New England fishermen have complained for years of abusive treatment, retaliation and excessive fines by the nation's fishery law enforcers.

"I want to apologize to the fishermen and businesses hurt by these mistakes," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco said in a press call. "Today marks a major turning point in NOAA's relationship with America's fishermen, particularly fishermen in the Northeast."

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Click here for the official NOAA press release on the decision.