In the coming weeks, DMR will hold meetings with the seven Lobster Zone Councils to facilitate the development of a plan that meets targets established by the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (TRT) for right whale protection.
The measures put forward by the TRT are driven by federal laws designed to protect whales: the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Because of the current status of right whales [18 deaths in 2017 and a declining birth rate], the ESA and the MMPA require action, and action will be taken by NOAA if Maine fails to come up with a plan that meets their goal.
As a reminder, the TRT has recommended broad measures for Maine that include removing 50% of vertical lines from the Gulf of Maine and the use of a weak rope topper.
I’m committed to working with industry to guide the development of a plan to present to the National Marine Fisheries Service that is informed by your unique knowledge and insight. At these meetings we will present proposals for your consideration that come from an analysis of vertical line data and fishing practices along the coast.
For this process to work your input is critical.
Meeting Dates for Whale Rule Discussions
DMR will be meeting with lobster zone council members and lobstermen from each region on the following dates:
- June 4, Zone B, Whale meeting, 6 pm, Trenton Elementary School
- June 6, Zone C, Whale meeting, 6 pm, Deer Isle Elementary School
- Performing Arts Center.
- June 10, Zone G, Whale meeting, 6 pm, Kennebunk High School auditorium.
- June 13, Zone E, Whale meeting, 6 pm, Wiscasset Middle/High School.
- June 18, Zone A, Whale meeting, 6 pm, Washington Academy Gym.
- June 20, Zone D, Whale meeting, 6 pm, Camden High School Gym.
- June 27, Zone F, Whale meeting, 6 pm, Freeport High School Performing Arts Center
The National Marine Fisheries Service will also hold public meetings with lobstermen during July to discuss the risk reduction goal set in April and receive feedback from lobstermen on possible state actions.