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Environment and Outdoors

New England Fishing Regulators Approve Habitat Protections

PORTLAND, Maine - Regional fishery regulators have been trying to balance conservation concerns against the needs of the commercial fishing industry this week.

They've been tackling the complicated issue of habitat amendment in federal waters from Maine to Connecticut.

MYSTIC, Conn. - The New England Fishery Management Council has opened some areas up to limited fishing, but has approved the majority of habitat protection measures being put forward.

That includes a decision to keep protections in place for an area called Cashes Ledge, which is about 80 miles off the Maine coast, and which conservationists want to see remain free from fishing activity.

Council spokeswoman Pat Fiorelli says there was also much debate over protected habitat in Georges Bank, which lies beyond the Gulf of Maine, an area rich in scallops. "And there's been a lot of discussion about how to protect habitat, how to allow access to scallops."

A final vote on that issue was postponed until the council's next meeting in Rhode Island in June.