Proposal to reopen ocean grounds panned

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s proposal to reopen 3,000 square miles of ocean off the coast of Cape Cod to commercial fishing has pleased almost no one, including the South Shore’s commercial fishermen.

“It’s not like the closed areas are just a paradise full of fish. This is not a panacea,” said Frank Mirarchi, a Scituate fisherman of 51 years.
Last week, NOAA announced a proposed change to its rules that would reopen almost 3,000 square miles of ocean off the coast of Cape Cod that has been closed for almost 20 years to commercial fishing on a seasonal basis.

For Mirarchi, this is too far offshore to have any practical, positive impact on the industry.

“None of the boats in Scituate, Plymouth and Green Harbor go out that far,” Mirarchi said.

The regulatory changes would allow greater access to flounder and haddock – among other species – for vessels that do travel that far, said NOAA communications officer Majorie Mooney-Seus.

State environmental groups are also unhappy about the proposal. The Conservation Law Foundation and Earthjustice sued NOAA in May, claiming the agency had skipped a legally required analysis of the effects of reopening the areas.

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