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Meetings Begin On New Lobster Gear Rules To Protect Right Whales

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
In this Wednesday, July 25, 2018 photo, lobster fishing boats head out to sea on a foggy morning off South Portland, Maine.

Maine lobstermen will meet with state marine resources officials in Trenton Tuesday evening to consider coming regulations that could force the industry to reduce by half the amount of fixed-gear trap rope placed in the ocean.That's one of several measures Maine representatives to a special task force on the endangered North Atlantic right whale agreed to last month in an effort to meet a federal requirement to significantly reduce annual right whale injuries and mortality due to entanglements in fishing gear.

Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association, says it's a difficult but attainable goal,  whether through reducing actual per-boat trap numbers or by sinking more traps per line in the water.   

"And I don't think anybody will be happy to do it, but I think a lot of guys realize it's probably what we're going to have to do," Porter says.

Tonight's meeting of the Lobster Zone B Council starts at 6 p.m. at the Trenton Elementary School. The Department of Marine Resources has scheduled such meetings in each of the state's seven lobster zones over the course of this month.

Originally published June 4, 2019 at 6:39 a.m. ET.