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More scallop fishing allowed

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- Starting today, the National Marine Fisheries Service will open some closed fishing areas in New England for sea scallop harvesting.

Different scallop beds have been closed on a rotating basis over the past few years to prevent overfishing. Federal marine management officials say the closures have helped the scallop fishery rebound.

In 2003, the sea scallop harvest in the Northeast netted nearly $227 million, second only to the lobster fishery.

''Sea scallop populations were low and depleted during much of the 1990s," said Patricia Kurkul, the administrator of the Northeast regional office of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

''The remarkable rebound in the stock and the fishery today results from effective fishery management."

The fisheries service said it will open areas on Georges Bank and south of Nantucket Shoals today. The last time those areas were open for scalloping was four years ago.

Fishing boats still face some restrictions on the number of trips they can make, limits on their scallop harvest per trip and quotas for by-catch of yellowtail flounder.

The controlled-access sea scallop fisheries are designed to prevent overfishing and avoid damage to important habitat.

Newly approved fishery rules have been under consideration by the agency since July, and public comment on the proposed rule closed in September.

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