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Feds turn down request for porpoise closure relief

September 9, 2012
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BOSTON—Federal regulators have rejected a fishing industry request to change plans to close a key fishing area off New England to protect harbor porpoises.

The Northeast Seafood Coalition, a fishing industry group, asked the National Marine Fisheries Service to begin the two-month closure next February, instead of November, and change the closed area's boundaries.

The coalition says that would better prevent porpoises from getting caught in fishing nets and ease a projected $10 million loss to fishermen.

But the head of the agency's Northeast office, John Bullard, said in a letter last week that an analysis indicates the coalition's suggestions wouldn't much help fishermen or porpoises.

He also blamed local fishermen for poor compliance with a requirement to install "pingers" on nets, which emit a sound that drives porpoises away.

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