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(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today welcomed the decision from the National Marine Fisheries Service to delay a two-month fishing closure of coastal waters in the Gulf of Maine. The closure, which was put in place to help protect harbor porpoises that are accidently caught by fishermen, will now start February 1 instead of October 1.

“October and November are the most productive months for fishermen and this change will help an already struggling industry survive,” Shaheen said. “The delay will help avoid a potentially devastating impact on our state’s gill net fishermen and will also provide a stronger benefit for porpoises.” 

This past month, Shaheen joined a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calling for the closure to be pushed back. In the letter, Shaheen said this delay would decrease the negative economic impacts on fishing communities and would also offer stronger protections for harbor porpoise, as porpoise most frequently become entangled in fishermen’s nets during the winter months.

In April, NOAA announced the plan to close 2,130 square miles of coastal waters in the Gulf of Maine this October and November.  Small in-shore day boats, which make up the majority of New Hampshire’s fishing fleet, would be primarily impacted as they derive much of their annual income from fishing in these areas during this time of year.