In this Aug. 24, 2019, file photo, a lobsterman stands lookout on the bow as another pilots their boat at Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is calling for a half-million dollars in donations to help it “save” the state’s lobster industry from potential extinction.

The association said the money would go to its legal defense of the fishery in a federal court case brought by conservationists who want stronger protections of the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

The whales can be injured or killed by entanglement with rope used to tend trap-pot gear, such as lobster traps. But the association’s executive director, Patrice McCarron, said there is no proof that the whales are actually interacting with traps set by the Maine fleet.

“If the Maine lobster fishery is shut down in an endangered species violation, I think it would be a monumental injustice and a monumental misread of the actual data that we have on what is causing right whale serious injury and mortality, and we are not going to sit by and let that happen,” McCarron said.

Recent court rulings in three separate cases have sided with conservationists, though, finding that the federal and state governments have violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing some Northeast fisheries, including lobster, to continue. A fourth lawsuit that specifically targets Maine’s lobster fishery is pending.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

Watch: The Maine lobster industry

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