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Regulators Consider New Rules On Fishermen To Protect Right Whales

Cynthia Christman
Two right whales engage in what scientists think could be reproductive or social behavior.

This could be a big week for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and for Maine's lobster fishery as well.  A meeting in Providence will consider new regulations on lobster and other fishermen to protect the roughly 400 remaining whales from becoming entangled in fishing gear.Remedies on the table range from gear changes, such as breakaway rope or proposed "rope-less" trap-hauling technology, to limits on trap numbers, to periodic closures of ocean areas when whales are likely to be swimming through.

Portland-based lobsterman Lyman Kennedy says he is scared of the power the federal government wields.

"I’m scared to death. Scared to death," he says. "And any lobsterman that isn't aware or scared to death of what they're going to do should start paying attention."

Consensus might be hard to reach though. Stakeholders on the "Take Reduction Team" that meets this week run the gamut from long-time lobstermen to state and federal regulators, scientists and committed conservationists.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.