Lobstermen Sue Feds Over Right Whale Protection Plan


The Maine Lobstermen Association (MLA) yesterday filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s ten year whale protection plan in US District Court in the D.C. circuit.  The 32 page Complaint calls for Injunctive Relief from the restrictions on the lobster industry who has already taken steps to protect the endangered right whales on its own.

The lawsuit is against the National Fisheries Service, (NMFS) and  the US Secretary of Commerce The charge of the Association is that the new restrictions are “unlawful because NMFS acted arbitrarily by failing to rely on the best scientific information” and “inexplicably failing to account for the positive impact of conservation measures already adopted by the Maine lobster fishery.”  The NMFS is responsible for managing fisheries in federal waters.

According to a front page article in the October 2021 issue of “The Working Waterfront” titled – “Feds Limit Lobstering to Protect Right Whales,” the seasonal ban is limited to 967-square-miles in the Gulf of Maine.  “An estimated 62 fishermen from Stonington to Boothbay Harbor are expected to be affected by the closure,” according to the article.  “The focus of the rule is on North Atlantic right whales because of their status as a critically endangered species, with only an estimated 368 left in the world.”

Governor Mills also announced yesterday that a federal judge has granted her Administration’s nation to intervene in the litigation.  With the approval of the office of Maine’s attorney general, the Mills Administration has contracted with the law firm Nossaman LP to represent the State of Maine as an intervenor in this lawsuit.  Nossaman attorneys have extensive experience litigating Endangered Species Act issues related to commercial fishing.  The Governor is supporting the effort by funding the use of specialized outside counsel through the Governor’s Contingent Account.