Great South Channel Habitat Management Area
New England clam harvesting grounds closed
Thursday, December 06, 2018, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
The New England Fisheries Management Council has decided to close vital surf clam harvesting grounds in an effort to protect fish spawning areas.
The surf clam industry hoped for the approval of Alternative 2, which would continue an exemption in its fishing areas but would modify boundaries including seasonal areas, South Coast Today reported.
Great South Channel Habitat Management Area in green
The sector also called for increased monitoring with 5-minute vessel monitoring system to locate where the vessels are fishing.
Photo: NOAA ►
In addition, the clam industry would also fund a research project that NOAA would undertake to examine the habitat but that funding money is now debatable on whether the industry can afford to provide it.
The council adopted a modified version of Alternative 2, which closed the areas of Rose and Crown and Zone D to all mobile bottom-tending gear with the exception of hydraulic clam dredge vessels.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell spoke to the council and urged for the approval of the original wording of Alternative 2. He said anything else would negatively impact 500 families that rely on the clam industry financially.
It is believed that some members of the council voiced support for the modified version because it offered a better chance for NOAA’s approval.
The Council decision added more bitterness on a port that has already experienced a large swath of ground fishing vessels sidelined due to penalties handed down against Carlos Rafael, nicknamed The Codfather.
A hydraulic dredge filled with surf clams being hauled on board and on-board surf clam sorting, measuring and storage in wire "cages" (Photo: N.Stolpe/fishingnj.org)
Surf clammers are operating on a one-year extension that still allows access to the Great South Channel Habitat areas they currently fish. That extension is set to expire on April 9, 2019, and it was unclear Tuesday whether the council would pursue another extension until the final rule is developed.
- Former captain of Codfather’s fishing vessel sentenced for blocking Guard inspection