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Recreational fishing will be allowed in New England marine preserve

Recreational fishing will be allowed in the new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the Massachusetts coast.

Recreational fishing will be allowed in the new Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the Massachusetts coast — a big win for the recreational fishing and boating industries as an important marine resource is preserved without public restriction, officials said Thursday morning.

The industries are praising President Obama for his decision to differentiate public use, including recreational fishing, from commercial fishing as an allowable activity in the 4,913-square-mile area about 150 miles off Cape Cod, which contains deep-sea corals and other unique and fragile marine habitats. (The act bans commercial fishing in the area by 2023. Obama today will formally announce the decision at the third annual Our Ocean Conference in Washington.)

Applause for Obama’s decision came from both the fishing and boating industries.

“Recreational fishing and commercial fishing are fundamentally different activities,” Center for Coastal Conservation president Jeff Angers told Trade Only in an email this morning. “Recognizing this difference is important to fisheries management and to marine conservation. This precedent is meaningful for anglers and hopefully can inform better decision making for federal fisheries managers.”

Recreational fishing and resource conservation are closely connected, said American Sportfishing Association president and CEO Mike Nussman.

“For many years, the recreational fishing community has worked to educate legislators and decision-makers on the social, conservation and economic benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation,” Nussman said in a statement. “We are grateful that the Obama administration has taken a thoughtful approach to designating marine monuments in a way that recognizes the importance of allowing the public to access and enjoy these precious areas.”

National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich said the decision “demonstrates a consistent commitment by the administration to recognize the importance of recreational activities, including recreational boating and fishing, within a marine monument. We are pleased to support federal actions that promote conservation while allowing responsible user access."

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