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November 20, 2013

Fish panel backs off herring restrictions

NEWPORT, R.I. — The New England Fisheries Management Council has backed away from emergency restrictions on herring fishing that had been sought by other New England fishermen.

Haddock boat captains had urged the regional council, a policy-setting body tied to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to temporarily ban so-called mid-water herring trawling because the large fishing vessels can accidentally catch haddock that is later dumped back into the sea as by catch.

Herring fishermen, however, said they already work to limit the haddock they catch and say the proposed restrictions would have devastated their business.

The council declined to endorse the ban at its meeting Wednesday in Newport.

The proposal would have prohibited trawling until each vessel has an independent full-time observer on board to monitor the catch. The restriction would have required the approval of federal fisheries regulators.

Council members said they will continue to study the problem.

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