NOAA nixes porpoise-fueled closures

Federal fishing regulators have deep-sixed a strategy that sought to protect the harbor porpoise by closing more New England fishermen out of certain areas.

The so-called “consequence closures” were enacted if too many porpoises were caught in fishermen’s stationary gillnets — a plan that threatened to pose dire new consequences to the groundfishing gillnet fleet, which includes many of the boats out of Gloucester.

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

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