A temporary federal closure of local fishing grounds in coastal waters in the Gulf of Maine has been delayed until the winter. The two-month closure, originally set to take effect on Oct. 1, will instead start on Feb. 1.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had planned to shut down 2,130 square miles of coastal waters in October and November in order to protect harbor porpoises accidentally caught in gillnets.
The National Marine Fisheries Service announced the delay on Sept. 26 after hearing concerns from fishermen, as well as U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who worried the measure would devastate the local fishing industry.
According to Shaheenâs office, the move would have been especially damaging to small, in-shore day boats, which make up the majority of New Hampshireâs fishing fleet, as they derive much of their annual income during the fall months.
Harbor porpoises are not endangered in the Gulf of Maine, but hundreds are accidentally caught and killed each year in stationary nets. The temporary closure for their protection will now take place in February and March.
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