A lobster boat carries a heavy loads of traps as it motors out to sea near Peaks Island. Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Portland, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Department of Marine Resources has been granted intervenor status in a federal lawsuit brought over new lobstering restrictions intended to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a new set of rules for the lobster fishery last summer with a goal of reducing the entanglement risk for the remaining 336 North Atlantic right whales.

But the governor said that it’s misguided to impose restrictions on Maine’s signature seafood.

“There’s never been a known right whale mortality associated with the Maine lobster fishery, and there have been zero known right whale entanglements associated with Maine lobster gear in almost two decades,” said Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills.

The federal lawsuit was brought by the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. As an intervenor, the state can file briefs and make arguments, but is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant.