BOSTON — The federal fisheries service has closed an important scallop area to fishing at the request of New England regulators and with the support of the scallop industry.

The closure of the so-called “Elephant Trunk Area” aims to protect growing scallops there.

The area off the coasts of Delaware and New Jersey is used by scallopers around the Northeast. It was closed for 180 days starting Dec. 12. The fisheries service said it’s likely to be closed an additional two years after that.

Officials said a survey of the Elephant Trunk Area this year found the third-highest observed abundance of small scallops there since 1979.

Regulators said the scallops must be protected as part of a program that rotates fishing between different areas to give scallops time to rebound in places that aren’t in use.

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