A proposal by the New England Fishery Management Council could open up portions of protected, closed areas of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank to commercial fishing to compensate for dramatic cuts in catch limits for groundfish.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is reviewing the proposal from the New England Fishery Management Council, a quasi-governmental agency responsible for management of federal fisheries. The plan could result in restoring some commercial fishing in portions of the ocean that have been off-limits, some for nearly 20 years.
NOAA is expected to act on the proposal before June.
The plan is facing stiff opposition from parts of the fishing industry, environmentalists and conservationists.
The closed areas cover nearly 8,500 square miles of New England's seafloor, but proposed changes would reduce this by more than half. More than 5,000 square miles could be reopened, including parts of Cache's Ledge and the Western Gulf of Maine -- the two areas that affect most coastal fishermen in the state.
Also changed would be two areas off Massachusetts and Rhode Island and Nantucket Lightship to the southeast. All were established in the 1990s to protect juvenile fish, spawning areas and seafloor habitat. They also provide benefits to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and harbor porpoises.
If approved, the proposal would not automatically open all parts of the specific closed areas to anyone who wished to do commercial fishing there, said Maggie Mooney-Sues, communications officer for NOAA. It would give fishing cooperatives, known as sectors, the opportunity to ask for permission to go into those closed areas, and review of the requests would be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Read the full story at Portland Press Herald>>
National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14
In this episode:
NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first
NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.