PORTLAND, Maine — The federal government is touting new protections for young cod as a way to help rebuild the population of the fish.

The population of cod has plummeted off of New England, which was once home to a much larger fishery for the species. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says new fishing management rules include a Habitat Area of Particular Concern designation to help juvenile cod.

The zone stretches along the coast from Maine to Rhode Island and includes areas of rocky or vegetated habitats, as well as sandy areas nearby. NOAA says these areas need extra protection because they provide shelter from predators for young cod.

The agency says protection of the habitat is intended to try to give the cod a better chance to grow to maturity.