Research Team Supports Reinstatement Of Maine Lobster Fishing Ban

A group of male right whales surfacing together between feeding dives.
CREDIT: New England Aquarium, taken under NMFS Permit #19674

HYANNIS – The New England Aquarium’s Right Whale Research Team recently voiced their support of a recent ruling by a federal appeals court which reinstated protective measures for critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whales off the coast of Maine.

Despite objections from the Maine Lobstering Union, the ban of lobster fishing in hundreds of miles of waters off the coast of Maine was upheld by the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to the ruling by the federal appeals court, the district court misinterpreted the analysis of government scientists and went beyond the bounds of its authority in repealing the ban.

In their statement, the Right Whale Research Team said that “the federal appeals court ruling reinstating this important seasonal fishing area closure in the Gulf of Maine is a critical regulatory step to protect North Atlantic right whales from the impact of human activities.”

The research team noted that there have been numerous siting’s of the whales in the enclosed area in recent months.

Collisions with marine vessels and entanglement in fishing lines poses a major threat to North Atlantic Right Whales, whose population dropped to 336 in 2020, an eight percent decrease from 2019 and thirty percent decrease since 2011.

The steep drop has led to concerns that the critically endangered species could soon go extinct.

“Fishers and researchers are working together throughout New England and Canada to implement reduced breaking strength ropes and to advance ropeless technologies, the pathway forward for the survival of the species and a flourishing fishing industry,” said the research team in their statement.

“This is a resilient species that can recover, but only with dramatic protection measures throughout their range along the East Coast.”

Officials with the Maine Lobstering Union have indicated they will continue to fight the ban.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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