NEW HAMPSHIRE: Planned fisheries closure leaves locals reeling
SEABROOK, N.H. -- September 14, 2012 -- Randy Gauron of the Yankee Fisherman Cooperative said the pending "consequence closure" of a section of the Gulf of Maine starting Oct. 1 will significantly impact the co-op and could potentially put it out of business.
"This is not just going to impact us, but all the fisherman in the area," Gauron said. "This is the time of year that is most productive for gillnet fishing and they basically are saying we can't fish."
In a related development, the U.S. Commerce Department has declared a "disaster" in the Northeast groundfishing industry for the 2013 fishing year, opening the door for possible relief funding from Congress.
Gauron was one of many Seacoast-area fisherman who met with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Regional Administrator John Bullard on Wednesday to discuss the closure and other issues impacting the fishing industry.
But the prime topic of discussion was the pending enforcement action against Gulf of Maine gillnet fishermen ranging from York and Kittery, Maine, to the North Shore of Massachusetts, who are being penalized for excessive "bycatch" of harbor porpoises.
Harbor porpoises are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and bycatch occurs when they are caught in fishermen's nets. Fishermen are required to affix "pingers" to their nets, which emit a high-frequency sound that alerts porpoises to their presence, aiming to keep them from getting entangled in nets.
However, Dave Gouveia, marine mammal coordinator with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, said the bycatch rate has increased considerably over recent years, resulting in enforcement action in the form of a "consequence closure" that will shut down gillnet fishing in October and November.
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