Lobstermen stand on Widgery Wharf in Portland on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 during a press conference held by the Maine Lobstermen's Association. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — Federal fishing managers are looking for feedback from lobster harvesters about a plan to require electronic tracking.

An arm of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, an interstate regulatory authority, is considering implementing the tracking requirements for lobster and Jonah crab boats that have federal permits. The board approved the proposal for public comment on Monday.

The new requirements could help protect vulnerable right whales and also give scientists a better idea about the population of lobsters and crabs, regulators have said. The whales number less than 350 and they are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.

The board said it plans to hold public hearings about the proposal early next year. The lobster fishing business is facing a host of other new restrictions to try to protect the rare whales.