Maine lobstermen appeal federal judge rejection of lawsuit

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:26 AM EDT
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KENNEBUNK, Maine (WMTW) - The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that rejected a lawsuit aimed at blocking new regulations designed to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.

The appeal goes to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association, with the state, sued to stop or delay the regulations that will limit where and how lobstermen can fish in federal waters. The lawsuit argued that the National Marine Fisheries Service acted arbitrarily by failing to rely on the best available scientific information and by failing to account for the positive impact of conservation measures already adopted by the Maine lobster fishery.

Thursday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sided with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

In his ruling on Sept. 8, a Federal District Court judge said the regulations were not arbitrary, so he would not overturn them.

In announcing their appeal Monday morning, the MLA said the regulations would “cripple” Maine’s lobster industry, calling the regulations “draconian and fundamentally flawed.”

“The Maine lobster industry faces punishing, unnecessary regulatory restrictions in a careless effort to save endangered whales,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the MLA. “After working for years with federal regulators and other stakeholders, and after pleading our case to a federal court that never addressed our well-documented concerns with scientific deficiencies, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association is escalating its fight to save Maine’s lobstering heritage from a plan that the agency itself admits is not needed for the species to survive.”

McCarron added that the MLA is prepared to take their fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

“We refuse to let a single judge’s decision be the last word,” said Kristan Porter, President of the MLA. “The facts are clear. Maine lobstermen are not driving the whale towards extinction. There has never been a known right whale mortality associated with Maine lobster gear, and there has not been a single known right whale entanglement with Maine lobster gear in nearly two decades.”