Gillnet fishermen work to reduce porpoise bycatch

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration planned to impose a consequence closure on the gillnet fishery for October and November because fishermen failed to comply with a section of the Marine Mammal Protection Act that restricts bycatch of harbor porpoises. Gillnetters use stationary nets anchored by weights to catch groundfish such as cod and flounder, and bycatch occurs when harbor porpoises or other marine animals are inadvertently caught.

The decision to shift the closure from October to February came after the Northeast Seafood Coalition, a nonprofit representing more than 250 commercial fishing entities, submitted an industry proposal suggesting fishermen would be less affected economically and that more harbor porpoises would be protected if the consequence closure happened in February and March.

According to the NSC, gillnet fishermen are continuing to make concerted, proactive choices to minimize interactions with harbor porpoises, and the data show a low number of “takes” in October.

Read the full story at Seacoast Online

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