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NOAA chief who led regional fishing change resigns

The woman who oversaw the struggling New England fishing industry’s tumultuous transition to a new fishery management system resigned Wednesday.

Jane Lubchenco announced she was stepping down as ­administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric ­Administration, effective in February. The former college professor will return to her West Coast home and academia.

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In New England, assessments show key stocks in poor health and fishermen facing drastic catch reductions in 2013. In September, the US Commerce Department declared a fishery disaster in New England, amid fears the historic industry is nearing collapse.

In a letter to her ‘‘NOAA Family,’’ Lubchenco listed 20 accom­plishments since her 2009 appointment. First was ‘‘ending over-fishing, rebuilding depleted stocks, and returning fishing to profitability.’’

But US Senator Scott Brown said Lubchenco’s tenure has been disastrous for New England fishermen and called on the acting head of the US Commerce Department to appoint someone to end ‘‘this sad chapter of mismanagement.’’

‘‘Administrator Lubchenco has implemented job-killing policies that have decimated the Massachusetts fishing fleet,’’ Brown said.

The new management system, enacted in May 2010, gives fishermen individual shares of the catch for each species, which they pool and manage in groups called sectors.

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