Federal fishing regulators are proposing a new way to help struggling New England and Northeast fishermen target the plentiful Acadian redfish.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which regulates East Coast fisheries from Maine to the Carolinas from its Northeast regional headquarters in Gloucester’s Blackburn Industrial Park, wants to allow fishermen to use nets with smaller mesh sizes to better catch the reddish-orange schooling fish.
Redfish was heavily fished in the 1950s and 1960s, but demand dropped by the 1980s, and that’s allowed the population to grow.
A lack of interest in redfish, which is relatively small and labor intensive to cut, has meant its markets have withered. But NOAA regulators want to revive the redfish market as an alternative for fishermen absorbing huge cuts in other, less healthy species.
The switch to a smaller mesh size, now open to public comment, would include protections to ensure the nets don’t over-catch juvenile fish of other species.