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Gillnet Closures to Protect Right Whales Announced

First published in Landings, January, 2020

On December 16, NOAA announced the closure of the Nantucket Lightship and Closed Area I Groundfish Closure Areas for gillnet gear to comply with a recent Court Order. All gillnetters must remove their gillnet gear from these areas as soon as possible, consistent with safe vessel operations. On October 28, 2019, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled in favor of Conservation Law Foundation on the need to prohibit gillnet fishing in the former Nantucket Lightship Groundfish Closure Area and the Closed Area I Groundfish Closure Areas in order to protect North Atlantic right whales. The judge wrote that, “humans have brought right whales to the brink of extinction.” After the Order was issued, NOAA notified gillnetters in these areas on November 1 that all gillnet gear needed to be removed from these two areas and that we would be issuing a formal rule closing these areas. 

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