, Gloucester, MA

May 1, 2012

NOAA looks to ease yellowtail crunch

BOSTON (AP) — Federal regulators Monday announced steps aimed at easing the impact on fishermen of an imminent 80 percent cut in the yellowtail flounder catch on Georges Bank.

The tight catch limit on yellowtail — which takes effect today, the first day of the 2012 fishing year — is designed to prevent struggling fishermen from chasing the more valuable, abundant fish that yellowtail swim among.

But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday it would allow mid-sized fishing vessels to use new gear designed to help fishermen avoid yellowtail as they seek the more abundant species.

Yellowtail is also accidentally caught by scallopers, so they are allotted a portion of the annual catch so their lucrative industry, anchored in New Bedford, won't be shut down for overfishing yellowtail.

NOAA said it would give fishermen any portion of the yellowtail allotment that it projects scallopers won't use.