PORTLAND, Maine — Maine will continue pressuring the federal government with the message that an endangered species of whale faces numerous threats that have nothing to do with Maine’s lobster fishing industry, the head of the state’s fisheries department said Tuesday.
The lobster fishing industry in Maine and the rest of the East Coast is the subject of numerous new restrictions as part of a federal push to save the North Atlantic right whale. The whale numbers only about 360 and they’re vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.
Maine Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said during a briefing Tuesday that the rules represent a major challenge to the state’s lifeblood industry. He said he will continue to make the case to regulators that entanglement in gear is just one threat the whales face, and other threats need to be taken into consideration, too.
Other threats to the whales include ship strikes, low birth rates, and deaths in Canadian waters, outside U.S. jurisdiction, Keliher said.
Keliher said the industry is “looking for some level of certainty” as it contends with the new harvesting rules.