Letter to the Editor: Letter Writer Spreads Lobster Misinformation

As a lifelong Maine commercial fisherman, I wish to correct the record and clarify the misinformation provided by a recent letter writer (“Fighting whale-safe gear rules won’t ‘save Maine lobstermen'”, February 6).

In 2021, the federal government released a 10-year plan requiring the Maine lobster industry to reduce the already minimal risk to endangered right whales by 98%. Requiring Maine lobster fishers to adapt to “on-demand fishing technology” is not a practical solution, nor a proven technology, due to overwhelming costs, safety issues, enforcement of the law and a multitude of tangles of lockers.

Maine lobsters are not opposed to regulations to protect whales. Over the past two decades we’ve played by the rules by pulling a huge amount of rope from the water, putting weak links in the top of our buoy lines and marking our lines to show if our equipment is responsible for a tangle. We are also implementing a series of new measures this spring.

Unfortunately, the author ignores the fact that: The federal government acknowledges that there has never been a known death of a right whale by Maine lobster fishing gear; science shows that right whales in search of food are moving further and further away from the areas where we fish; almost all whale deaths since 2016 have been attributed to Canadian gear, and the new rules do not apply to the US shipping industry – although ship strikes have killed four right whales since 2018.

Maine Lobsters support solutions based on sound science. The new rules are not. We believe the only way to ensure Maine’s lobster industry isn’t wiped out by unfair federal regulations is to fight them in court.

Bob Baines
South Thomaston

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