NOAA issues emergency action

01 Jun 2011

NOAA has announced that it will not reopen the Nantucket Lightship Access Area to scallop fishing, as had been scheduled for 15 June.

This is at the request of the New England Fishery Management Council and members of the scallop industry.

“We are working with the council and scallop fishermen to protect scallops and southern New England yellowtail flounder stocks in this area to allow for future sustainable fishing here,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “By ensuring sustainable scallop yields for the future from this area, we are also preserving the integrity of our successful rotational management program.”

Rotational management, where some areas are opened to fishing while others are closed to allow scallops to mature and grow to marketable size, promotes higher catches with less fishing time in the areas that are open. Rotational management has helped make the scallop fishery one of the top valued fisheries in the nation and made New Bedford, Mass., the nation’s top earning port.

"We urged both the council and NOAA to keep this area closed because the high price of scallops may make fishing in this area more attractive than anyone expected and we don't want to risk exceeding our catch limits for the fishery or compromise the effectiveness of the rotational management program," said Drew Minkiewicz, an attorney with the Fisheries Survival Fund, which represents sea scallop fishermen.

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