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Gulf of Maine preserve could be partially reopened

After a dozen years of prohibiting access, the New England Fishery Management Council is considering reopening portions of a preserve 80 miles off the coast of Gloucester — one of the region’s most distinct marine habitats — to trawlers.

Even if the most sensitive areas remain protected, the prospect has infuriated environmental advocates, who worry about harming the ledge’s unique biodiversity and further damaging already dramatically reduced cod populations.

“If they open up what is basically a museum of life in the Gulf of Maine, it would be like taking a snowplow through the natural history,” Jon Witman, a marine ecologist and professor of biology at Brown University who has been studying the area for years, told the Boston Globe. “To not protect these areas is unconscionable. This is a sanctuary.”