The federal Commerce Department must approve the votes, taken at the special Dec. 20 meeting, but John Bullard, regional administrator for the Commerce’s National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, announced his support for limited openings. Such openings would give the commercial fleet, facing a declared economic disaster, some hope for relief from the hardships to come in the fishing year beginning May 1.
At the same special meeting last month, the council deferred setting catch limits on the groundfish complex for the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank until its regularly scheduled January 2013 meeting in Portsmouth, N.H. By then, an extraordinary benchmark assessment of inshore cod will be available.
The five closed areas include two near Gloucester: the Western Gulf of Maine closed area, a thin rectangular section of water about 10 miles wide running from near Provincetown to opposite Portland, Maine, and about 12 miles east of Gloucester; and Caches Ledge, a rock outcrop about 30 miles north-northeast of Gloucester. The others are in Georges Bank.
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