The Northeast's top federal fisheries manager says he'll delay a planned shutdown of a key fishing area after fishermen argued the closure to protect harbor porpoises would devastate an industry segment.

John Bullard said today that the two-month Gulf of Maine closure to fishermen who use gillnets will now begin in February, instead of Oct. 1.

Bullard said the most recent data indicates porpoises are more frequently entangled in fishermen's nets during the winter. He said the plan to close the area in the fall was based on historical data.

Jim Kendall of New Bedford Seafood Consulting tells WBSM News Bullard's decision is logical.

Bullard also urged fishermen to properly use ``pingers,'' which drive porpoises away.

Bullard's decision comes after an initial refusal to alter the closure, and despite a Humane Society letter asking the feds to stand firm on the fall shutdown.