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Maine Lobstering Union appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to halt right whale protections

Maine Daily Life
Robert F. Bukaty
A lobsterman tosses a buoy overboard while setting his traps in Portland harbor, Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Portland, Maine. Lobster prices have been higher than average as the industry rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Trenton-based union that represents lobstermen and other industry stakeholders is making an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to halt new fishing restrictions in a nearly-one-thousand square mile area off Maine.

Federal regulators say critically endangered North Atlantic right whales could be killed there by entanglement with lobster trap-rope, and have barred traditional lobstering from October through January.

In a press release, the Maine Lobstering Union says it's appealing a lower court ruling to lift an injunction against the restrictions that the union had won from a U.S. district court judge in Bangor.

Under that latest ruling, lobstermen who fish the area about 30 miles off the Midcoast are supposed to have removed their gear by this week.

The union says the decision to close Maine waters to the industry is "based on misguided and incomplete science."

Acoustic detectors launched by the University of Maine, meanwhile, have picked up confirmed calls of North Atlantic right whales in or near the disputed zone within the last month. Scientists say there are fewer than 340 of the animals left on the planet.