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Environment and Outdoors

Feds Release Rules to Reduce Whale Entanglements

Federal fisheries regulators have announced measures intended to reduce the number of large whales getting entangled in fishing gear along the Atlantic seaboard.

In the Northeast, the measures include increasing the number of lobster traps hooked to each trawl line that fishing vessels release into the water. The aim is to reduce the number of vertical lines in places where whales are most abundant, and fishing activity is highest.

Other areas, including the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast, face different whale-protecting requirements.

"Our goal here was to be more precise in our management - to have different regulations that fit various communities, to be more precise and not have this broad-brush sort of based approach that's we're had in the past," says David Gouveia of NOAA Fisheries.

In New England, regulators are also increasing the size and frequency of required gear marks for both trap and pot gear. The New England measures become effective June 1, 2015.  Measures for the mid-Atlantic region go into effect Aug. 26 of this year, while those for the Southeast take effect Nov. 1.