Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) applauded an announcement from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northeast Regional Administrator John Bullard that will shift the closure date of the gillnet fishery to protect harbor porpoises. Previously scheduled to close October 1, NOAA today announced that the closure would be shifted to February when the economic impact on fishermen would be greatly reduced.
Reversing its previous denial for a date change, NOAA's announcement comes on the heels of appeals from the Northeast Seafood Coalition, Senator Kerry and several members of Northeast congressional delegations for regulators to meet with the fishing industry representatives and review a proposal that would offer better protection to harbor porpoises while reducing the economic hardship on fishermen.
"We were days away from trouble, and we got the relief we asked for, and that's important. Because we established an open dialogue between fishermen and regulators, we achieved a better outcome for our fishermen. By keeping the gillnet fishery open this fall, fishing boats will be on the water for one of the busiest seasons, and we can save fishing families and communities from tighter budgets and undue pain," said Sen. Kerry. "We know regulators must be smarter in the way they impose new rules so they don't cause unnecessary burden. Today's announcement is an example of how fisherman and government can work together to do just that."
Kerry, joined by members of the Massachusetts delegation and other Northeast states, called on NOAA to approve these changes in a September 6, 2012 letter to Acting Assistant Administrator Samuel D. Rauch.