Nations selling seafood to the U.S. must maintain higher standards for protecting whales, dolphins and other marine mammals, according to new regulations announced Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Other countries will be required to meet standards equal to what is required of U.S. fishermen under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, NOAA Fisheries officials said, a change local fishermen groups applauded.

“It's fantastic,” Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance CEO John Pappalardo said.

While the U.S. has some of the most conservation-minded fisheries laws in the world, American fishermen are selling in a global marketplace, Pappalardo said.

The cost of domestic regulations to U.S. fishermen cuts into their competitive edge, he said.

“It costs more money to produce that fish,” he said.

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