Lobster fishermen are suing to block surveillance laws designed to help save a rare whale

Lobster fishermen are suing to block surveillance laws designed to help save a rare whale

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A group of lobster fishermen has sued fishing regulators in federal court, claiming new electronic monitoring requirements designed to protect rare whales are unconstitutional.

The new rules went into effect Dec. 15 and require fishermen with federal lobster fishing permits to install 24-hour electronic tracking devices on their boats. The Maine Department of Marine Resources, which regulates Maine’s fisheries, has touted the new rule as a way to collect better data that could benefit fisheries and help save the vanishing North Atlantic right whale, which is vulnerable to fatal entanglement while hunting. Let’s go.

Five lobster men who are members of a lobster fishing union filed their lawsuit in federal court last week. The fishermen said they oppose the requirement that tracking devices be operational regardless of what the boat is being used for at the time.

“Plaintiffs assert that close monitoring of Maine’s federally licensed lobster fleet is unconstitutional, unwarranted, and unfair to Maine’s lobster fishermen, who have proven through the actions of generations of lobster families that they are good stewards of the ocean ecosystems essential to their lives,” said Thimi Minna. and Alfred Frawley IV, the fishermen’s attorneys, said in a statement: “Livelihood.”

Fishing monitoring, whether by human workers or electronic monitoring, has long been a controversial issue among commercial fishers. Regulators defend the rules as vital to collecting data used to manage fisheries, but many fishing groups consider them overkill.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announced the monitoring rules in 2022. The commission said in documents at the time that it was “important to collect and provide updated data” on commercial fishing to help the right whales, which number fewer than 360.

A spokesman for the commission said that the Atlantic States Commission had not had time to fully review the fishermen’s complaint. Patrick Kelleher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, said the data collected by the trackers will benefit lobster fishermen in the long term.

“Data from tracking devices is a critical component of Atlantic nations’ efforts to ensure that the lobster industry is not burdened with management decisions based on assumptions derived from insufficient data,” Kelleher said.

State officials said the tracking devices were issued to lobster men in Maine using funding from Congress. All lobster fishermen issued tracking devices have installed them, said Virginia Oisen, political director of the Maine Lobstering Federation. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing, Olsen said.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *