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Maine lobstermen sue federal government over right whale rules


The Maine Lobstermen’s Association has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over new rules aimed at protecting endangered right whales.Maine lobstermen said the forthcoming restrictions threaten their livelihood, are misguided and are at odds with the best available science. They also contend the new rules will not help protect right whales.The rules issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service are part of a 10-year plan to reduce the risk of right whales getting tangled in lobster fishing ropes and dying.The rules include new standards that reduce the number of rope lines that link buoys to lobster traps that can be in the water. The lawsuit from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association said the rules fail to account for gear modifications that began a decade ago.”We really feel like we’ve been singled out and wrongfully so, and our fishery’s at risk of going away because of it,” Maine Lobstermen’s Association Executive Director Patrice McCarron said.McCarron added that as the Gulf of Maine warms, right whales are increasingly migrating north to Canada and dying there.”When they model out to the year 2050, they get further and further away from out fishery and higher up into Canada. The agency has not considered that,” McCarron said.The lawsuit also warns that the rules would cause “devastating economic hardship” to Maine’s fleet of 4,800 lobster boats and the more than 10,000 jobs the industry supports.McCarron believes the government’s push toward ropeless, high-tech lobster harvesting is impractical given Maine’s infrastructure.”You would rely on cellular signals and Wi-Fi signals and acoustic devices. You would outfit your boat with high-tech computers and technology. You need a lot of space on the boat. You need to carry extra crew,” McCarron said.The restrictions begin next month with the closure of nearly 1,000 square miles of waters off Midcoast Maine to lobstermen.NOAA has predicted the regulations will reduce the risk of death and serious injuries to right whales by 70%.The National Maine Fisheries Service has not responded to WMTW News 8’s request for comment on the lawsuit.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over new rules aimed at protecting endangered right whales.

Maine lobstermen said the forthcoming restrictions threaten their livelihood, are misguided and are at odds with the best available science. They also contend the new rules will not help protect right whales.

The rules issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service are part of a 10-year plan to reduce the risk of right whales getting tangled in lobster fishing ropes and dying.

The rules include new standards that reduce the number of rope lines that link buoys to lobster traps that can be in the water.

The lawsuit from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association said the rules fail to account for gear modifications that began a decade ago.

“We really feel like we’ve been singled out and wrongfully so, and our fishery’s at risk of going away because of it,” Maine Lobstermen’s Association Executive Director Patrice McCarron said.

McCarron added that as the Gulf of Maine warms, right whales are increasingly migrating north to Canada and dying there.

“When they model out to the year 2050, they get further and further away from out fishery and higher up into Canada. The agency has not considered that,” McCarron said.

The lawsuit also warns that the rules would cause “devastating economic hardship” to Maine’s fleet of 4,800 lobster boats and the more than 10,000 jobs the industry supports.

McCarron believes the government’s push toward ropeless, high-tech lobster harvesting is impractical given Maine’s infrastructure.

“You would rely on cellular signals and Wi-Fi signals and acoustic devices. You would outfit your boat with high-tech computers and technology. You need a lot of space on the boat. You need to carry extra crew,” McCarron said.

The restrictions begin next month with the closure of nearly 1,000 square miles of waters off Midcoast Maine to lobstermen.

NOAA has predicted the regulations will reduce the risk of death and serious injuries to right whales by 70%.

The National Maine Fisheries Service has not responded to WMTW News 8’s request for comment on the lawsuit.

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