There are five zones off the New England coast drawn in varying angles and shapes, all rich with fish, or at least they were at one time. It’s why regulators looking to preserve valuable species closed these areas to certain kinds of fishing year-round, beginning in the 1990s.
Two decades later, a fishing industry in crisis wants to get back in.
Closing areas, fishing advocates say, is an outdated tool of a discarded fishery management system, and fishermen can now safely catch the healthy fish stocks that swim there. With regional fish populations limping along, they say, there’s little evidence closing these areas has worked anyway.