In this July 8, 2021, file photo, a lobsterman tosses a buoy overboard while setting his traps in Portland harbor in Portland. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The federal government and conservation groups are appealing a recent court decision that halted imposition of a seasonal ban on lobster trap rope in 1,000 square miles of fishing grounds off Maine.

Earlier this month, a U.S. district court judge granted a temporary injunction against the restrictions after the Maine Lobstering Union and others filed suit claiming that the government used flawed risk assessments.

The restrictions are intended to reduce the risk that endangered North Atlantic right whales will be injured or killed by entanglement with fishing gear.

In a statement Monday night, a lawyer for the conservation law foundation, Erica Fuller, pointed to data just released Monday showing that the whales’ population fell 8 percent last year.

Area closures, she said, are the only tool proven to reduce the risk posed by trap-rope.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.