© 2021 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Business and Economy

Maine Delegation Wants More Info Before Whale Rules Released

AP File
In this 2008 file photo, a ballet of three North Atlantic right whale tails break the surface in Cape Cod Bay near Provincetown, Mass.

Maine’s congressional delegation wants more information from the federal government before ocean managers release a new plan designed to protect endangered whales.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working on new rules to protect North Atlantic right whales, and the regulations will likely impact Maine’s lobster fishery. The whales are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.

The four members of Maine’s delegation said Wednesday they want information from NOAA about how new findings will be incorporated into the draft rules. NOAA completed a peer review process of the data tool it’s using to create the regulations, and the delegation wants to know what impact that will have on the rules, the members said.

The members also said they’re frustrated that NOAA hasn’t acknowledged the role Canadian fisheries pose to the right whales.

The delegation wrote in a letter to NOAA that the “misperception that Maine’s lobster fishery is the primary cause of North Atlantic right whale injury and mortality is based on assumptions and limited datasets” and ultimately won’t help save the animals. The new rules are likely to impact the lobster fishery by requiring the removal of lobster trap rope from waters.

NOAA Fisheries didn’t immediately respond to the statement on Thursday.