WASHINGTON (CN) – “Incidental” killing of porpoises by gill-net fisheries off the East Coast increased to 652 in 2007, from an annual rate of 515 from 2000 to 2005. Now the National Marine Fisheries Service wants to amend the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan to expand the fisheries it covers and create “consequence” closure areas to punish fisheries that do not comply with the take reduction.
Poor compliance and increased bycatch outside of management areas are the primary reasons for the increase in porpoise deaths, the NMFS says. In some areas the agency has observed only 10 percent compliance with placement of pinging devices on gill nets to warn off porpoises.
“Consequence” closure areas would be areas of high harbor porpoise bycatch that will be seasonally closed if the observed average bycatch rates exceed the target rate in two consecutive management seasons.