Maine lawmakers vote against lobstering defense fund idea

February 23, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Maine legislative committee has voted against a proposal to create a legal defense fund to help the state’s lobster fishing industry fight new restrictions.

The Maine Legislature’s Committee on Marine Resources voted against the idea on Tuesday. The fund would have been designed to help the industry challenge rules and regulations intended to protect the North Atlantic right whale.

Republican Rep. William Faulkingham, a commercial lobsterman, proposed the idea. It would have redirected fees and surcharges the state uses to manage the lobster fishing industry. He said he would bring back the proposal with a new approach.

Some members of the industry balked at the idea because the state already relies on the fees to help keep the lobster industry strong. Maine’s lobster industry is by far the largest in the country.

The right whales number less than 340 and they are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.