Commercial fishing, in particular, lobster fishing is an integral part of our local community and the economy of our state. This way of life is being threatened by new burdensome federal regulations. Over time, this will drive many fishermen out of business and forever change the character of the Maine lobster industry and our community. These regulations are championed as a way to help protect the North Atlantic right whale but will fail to do so. Largely because the vast majority of the measures will apply to areas where right whales are not present. Regulations will require gear modifications in Linekin Bay, Boothbay Harbor, and the Townsend Gut, areas where the 100,000 pound, 40-plus foot whales clearly do not live.
There has not been a single known right whale entanglement in Maine lobster gear in almost 20 years and Maine lobster gear has never been linked to a right whale death. Despite this the federal plan lays out a further 10 years of new regulations resulting in what they claim will be a 98 percent risk reduction. This plan will be devastating for the Maine lobster industry.
We have to fight back against this regulatory onslaught. The Maine lobster industry is a sustainable well-regulated fishery that has already implemented a number of measures to protect whales. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is leading the fight for our survival. We have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the plan. Facing us in court are well-funded special interest organizations.
We won’t give up without a fight, but we need help. Our campaign, www.savemainelobstermen.org, needs to raise $10 million for our industry to stand a chance at pushing back. This a fight for the future of our way of life. There are 4,800 licensed lobstermen in Maine. If we all gave $1,000, we would be halfway toward our goal. Along with lobstermen we need business and community support in the fight. Any donations towards our effort are greatly appreciated and critical for the future of lobster fishing in Maine.
Troy Plummer and Mark Jones
Troy Plummer and Mark Jones are commercial lobstermen and board members of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.