Seasonal closures on more than a quarter of Maine’s lobstering waters projected to cause economic harm without meaningful risk reduction for right whales
For Downeast Maine proposed closure alone, Pew’s proposal is estimated to reduce risk to whales by just 1.7%, while causing $22 million in losses for local lobstermen
WASHINGTON — Maine’s congressional delegation today pressed Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to reject a petition by the Pew Charitable Trusts to impose seasonal and dynamic closures on parts of Maine’s lobster fishery. The lawmakers’ objections centered on the limited effects the closures would have on protecting right whales at significant economic cost on lobstering communities up and down the state’s coast.
“We are writing to express our strong opposition to the petition for rulemaking that was recently submitted by the Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew), for interim regulations to protect the North Atlantic right whale,” wrote Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02). “This proposal would provide limited protections for right whales while causing significant economic harm to Maine’s lobster industry.”
The rulemaking proposed in the petition would close three different areas of Lobster Management Area 1 to vertical line trap fishing. Pew proposed opening those areas to ropeless fishing, ignoring the reality that ropeless technology is not commercially available, financially viable for lobstermen, or proven safe and effective.
“The petition submitted by Pew undermines our shared goal of both protecting the North Atlantic right whale and ensuring the future viability of our nation’s lobster fishery. Unfortunately, this proposal would have a detrimental economic impact on Maine’s lobster industry and the coastal communities they support, while providing limited risk reduction. It is unfortunate to see this attempted circumvention of NOAA’s established regulatory process when lives, livelihoods, and the survival of an endangered species are on the line,” the Maine lawmakers continued.
Read a copy of the letter here.