Gov. Janet Mills is taking aim at a draft federal report on endangered North Atlantic right whales she says could force a total reinvention of the state’s lobster fishery.
Mills says the so-called draft Biological Opinion outlines a 10-year goal of reducing risks that whales may be harmed by fishing gear or ship strikes by 98% — with the brunt of the burden to be carried by Maine lobstermen.
“What concerns me most is the lack of data, lack of science, lack of evidence that any of the deaths of right whales or reduced calving of right whales is attributable to anything that the lobstermen in the Gulf of Maine have done or not done,” she says.
There are roughly 360 of the whales estimated to be alive on the planet, and conservationists have been pushing the federal government to reexamine their status. And court actions are forcing the federal government to propose new regulations for fishing gear that can entangle the animals.
Federal officials are holding online public hearings on the proposed new rules Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.