Despite efforts by Maine’s delegation and Governor Mills to get the federal whale rule implementation date pushed to July 1, NOAA did not budge on that request, and the new federal regulations went into effect on May 1.
Maine’s Chapter 75 regulations, which incorporate measures from the federal rule, have also taken effect and can be found on the DMR website.
We recognize that Maine’s lobster industry has struggled to find the gear to comply with the new federal regulations.
It’s important to note that the Maine Marine Patrol takes its enforcement responsibilities seriously. And as always with new regulations, Marine Patrol will be working to help harvesters through communications and education to understand the new rule and find workable solutions to come into compliance.
We fully acknowledge that the approval and availability of weak links and weak inserts has been evolving, which makes it especially difficult to comply. I also continue to be frustrated that NOAA has consistently refused to approve the use of knots in federal waters as weak points.
We will continue to work with NOAA to urge them to consider fishermen’s input on approved weak inserts. In the meantime, we urge fishermen to reach out to their local Marine Patrol Officer or Marine Patrol Division Office to seek information and to discuss common sense approaches to compliance with these new regulations. Contact your Marine Patrol here.