A sternman, right, baits a lobster trap while the captain maneuvers the boat while fishing, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, off South Portland, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

PORTLAND, Maine  — A plan to create a $30 million fund to help Maine fishermen cope with the economic impact of new whale conservation rules faces a possible key vote on Tuesday.

The new federal rules are intended to protect rare North Atlantic right whales from entanglement in fishing gear. The rules make nearly 1,000 square miles of the Gulf of Maine mostly off limits to certain kinds of fishing in parts of the fall and winter.

The new rules are especially challenging for the state’s lobster industry, which is the biggest of its kind in the country. The Maine Legislature’s Committee on Marine Resources is due to consider the fund proposal on Tuesday in a work session.

Bill sponsor Rep. Holly Stover, D-Boothbay, has said the money from the fund could be used for necessities such as boat payments and gear. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association has backed the creation of the fund.