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Feds ax porpoise-related fishing grounds closures

October 9, 2013

GLOUCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Federal fishing regulators have eliminated a strategy that aims to protect the harbor porpoise by closing New England fishermen out of certain areas.

The so-called “consequence closures” were enacted if too many porpoise were caught in stationary nets, called gillnets.

Harbor porpoise aren’t endangered, and gillnet fishermen said being shut out of entire areas to protect the animals was financially crippling and unnecessarily restrictive.

The Northeast Seafood Coalition, an industry group, pushed for a re-analysis of federal harbor porpoise data, which it said found a healthier porpoise population than believed. In addition, according to a coalition spokesman, fewer porpoises are getting caught in nets.

He said that’s partly because of changed fishing practices, but also because the struggling industry is fishing less.

Regulators officially eliminated the closures last week.

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