New Hampshire gillnet fishermen are relieved to learn that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has postponed a temporary closure of the gillnet fishery on the Gulf of Maine.
In the original plan, the gillnet fishery would have been shut down in October and November, the two most profitable months of the year. And New Hampshire fishermen were not happy. Now, they will be allowed to continue fishing until the new closure dates of February through March.
NOAA cited an increase in harbor porpoise bycatch. They said the fishermen failed to adequately comply with the use and maintenance of devices designed to deter animals from the nets.
Fishermen had lobbied hard for the change in dates. Maggie Mooney-Seus with NOAA Northeast says the organization agreed to make the change.
“It will benefit the fishermen and it will benefit harbor porpoise. So that’s the rationale for shifting the closure.”
She says that economic concerns factored into the decision to shift the closure dates. But it was primarily based on a reevaluation of data which found that about 30 more porpoises were caught in February and March since 2008.