NOAA proposes opening closed areas

Map showing proposed areas to be re-opened after long-time closure. Credit: NOAA Map showing proposed areas to be re-opened after long-time closure. Credit: NOAA
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To help fishermen adjust to the new quota cuts for groundfish that have been effective since May, NOAA Fisheries has proposed to open approximately 33% of areas that have been closed for nearly 20 years.

Approximately 8,920 square miles are currently closed to protect groundfsh and habitat, and the proposal is to open 2,925 square miles of that area. The proposal also includes protections to ensure that habitat, vulnerable groundfish stocks, and other species are not put at risk.

“We’ve been working with fishermen, state managers and others to find creative ways to help fishermen identify sustainable fishing opportunities this year,” said John Bullard, NOAA Fisheries northeast regional administrator.

The proposed areas lie to the south and east of Cape Cod and NOAA Fisheries proposes that specific sections remain closed to protect habitat. Also, catch of stocks that are in poor condition, such as Georges Bank yellowtail and cod stocks, or are spawning, will be minimised through seasonal restrictions and the use of selective trawl and hook gear. Fishing trips in these areas will also need to be monitored.

While these areas have been closed to groundfishing, other fishing activities have occurred in portions of these areas including lobster fishing, so an agreement will be made to limit groundfishing to times of year when lobster fishing is not as prevalent to minimise the potential for conflict between gear types.

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