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Fishing Regulations To Protect Right Whale Could Lead To Millions For Maine Lobster Fishermen

July 2, 2022

The Maine lobster industry could receive millions in federal money so that fishermen can buy gear that complies with new federal regulations.

The money is part of a proposed congressional funding passage concerning the endangered and federally protected right whaleThere are roughly 340 right whales in existence today.

The entire package is $17 million, with $14 million being given to lobster fishermen, a large percentage of which operate in Maine. The rest will be used for research, monitoring, and conserving the lobster and right whale.

According to The Portland Press Herald, the regulations regarding lobster fishermen’s gear are supposed to prevent right whale entanglement, which is a common occurrence. They include a requirement to use weak lines which break away if a whale becomes entangled, approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The regulations also call for seasonal closings from October to January of vast stretches of area in the Gulf of Maine.

But lobster fishermen say that the whales are not in danger in the Gulf of Maine, where Maine lobster fishermen are.

In September 2021, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association sued the federal government on this basis. The case is pending.

Additionally, lobstermen say the regulations are bad for business since the new lines the government requires are in short supply.

Whale advocates describe the regulations as necessary to protect the whales from extinction. 

The regulations went into effect on May 1. The enforcement, however, has seen delays as the supply chain for new gear gets up and running.

 

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