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Maine considers legal defense fund for lobster industry

February 9, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers are considering creating a legal defense fund to help the state’s lobster industry deal with new rules, laws and regulations.

The lobster fishing business is navigating a host of new federal fishing restrictions designed to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales. A proposal from Republican Rep. William Faulkingham, a lobsterman himself, would establish the fund and create a commission to administer it. Faulkingham’s proposal states it would be funded with money from license surcharges and the sale of lobster trap tags.

The proposal was the subject of a public hearing Tuesday and will be subject to legislative committee votes in the future. Faulkingham testified that the industry faces “crippling regulations and industry collapsing lawsuits.” However, the response to the proposal from industry was mixed.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association testified it can’t support the proposal until it gets a better understanding of how it would work. The association also testified it was concerned the proposal could undermine legal defense efforts that have already started, and that the trap tag and license fees are already used for other purposes.

The whales number less 340 and they are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear. They’re also at risk of collisions with large ships.