AUGUSTA — Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released new federal regulations as part of their plan to protect right whales despite a lack of data and evidence linking current Maine lobstering practices to the decline of this endangered species. Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, released the following statement, criticizing the new regulations:
“The new federal regulations are an affront to the men and women who have made a living on Maine’s working waterfront for generations. For years, lobstermen have adapted to new regulations designed to protect endangered species while providing for their families. They’ve done their part to preserve and protect our environment because their livelihood depends on it. So for the federal government to impose wide-reaching regulations on Maine lobstermen when there is not a shred of evidence to suggest these men and women are responsible for any right whale deaths is a slap in the face. It’s also not surprising. We see this in the logging industry all of the time. Instead of going after the people and entities responsible for causing the problem or violating rules, federal regulators impose blanket regulations on working men and women — regulations that only make people at the top feel good but do nothing to solve the actual problem.
“I’m deeply disappointed that NOAA has decided to dismiss the voices of Maine’s lobstering workforce and chosen to go ahead with damaging regulations that do nothing more than hurt our fishermen, while the real threat to right whales remains — Canadian ships.”
An estimated 34 whales have died since 2017, with only 12 deaths occurring in U.S. waters. None of these deaths can be linked to Maine lobstermen.
New regulations regarding fishing gear will take effect May 2022. The more controversial changes take effect in 30 days. These changes are expected to cost lobstermen millions in new gear and 5-10 percent of their annual revenue according to the Portland Press Herald.