Federal regulators are deciding the scope of a management plan for thousands of square miles of fishing grounds off New England that has deeply divided fishermen and conservationists.
The New England Fishery Management Council is working on the long-awaited plan for federal waters from Maine to Rhode Island. It includes a host of options including opening areas closed to fishing and adding new restrictions to open areas.
Some of the options would change — and, in some cases, decrease — protections to habitats such as Cashes Ledge, an underwater mountain and offshore ecosystem mostly closed off to fishing that conservationists want to preserve. Regulators have held a series of public hearings about the proposed changes, with conservationists pushing for preserved or increased protections.
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