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Rules released to reduce whale entanglement

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Federal officials are releasing new regulations for commercial fishermen designed to reduce the number of whales caught in fishing gear off the Atlantic states.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the regulations Thursday. NOAA officials say the measures focus on reducing the number of vertical lines in areas where whales are the most abundant and the lines are most dense. The lines are ropes that connect surface buoys to traps and pots on the ocean floor.

NOAA officials say the rules will help right, humpback, fin and minke whales.

The exact restrictions differ based on whether the gear is located in New England, the mid-Atlantic, or the Southeast. The regulations take effect Aug. 26 in the mid-Atlantic, Nov. 1 in the Southeast, and June 1, 2015 in New England.

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