The office of U.S. Senator Angus King, I-Maine, released the following statement from Sen. King expressing his support for Maine’s lobster industry in the face of proposed regulations associated with the ongoing North Atlantic right whale take reduction efforts. The statement comes as lobstermen are rallying in Stonington to oppose the regulations put forward by the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (ALWTRT), which would significantly impact the state’s lobster fishery.
“For Maine people, lobsters aren’t just a good meal – they’re a central part of our state’s economy and identity. This industry, and the people who work in it, represent the best of Maine: hardworking, adaptable, and dedicated to operating in a sustainable way. Their work has supported coastal Maine communities for hundreds of years, and has built a sterling reputation for the products of our great state, across the nation and around the world.
“Unfortunately, the regulations proposed by the ALWTRT could undermine lifetimes of work and dramatically harm Maine’s economy – and even still, they might not even achieve their goal of preventing further decline in the right whale population, since the whales spend long periods of time outside of Maine waters and it’s difficult to determine where a whale first became entangled.
“Of particular concern is the lack of needed regulations on Canadian lobstermen, even though the data shows right whales are far more likely to be seriously hurt or injured in Canadian waters. With a subject this important – regulations that could seriously impact our local economies – we need to make sure we get it right.
“So, to the lobstermen assembled today in Stonington: I am with you. Your contributions to our state are invaluable, and I won’t stop fighting to make sure you can carry on this culturally and economically vital Maine tradition. Federal regulations on lobstering in Maine must be well-founded and in line with the Maine lobster fishery’s actual risk to the whales.”
Senator King has joined with his Maine Delegation colleagues to urge the Administration to revisit the ALWTRT’s proposed regulations, and has backed Governor Janet Mills’ decision to contest the regulations.
According to King’ office:
“Senator King is also actively engaged on other issues facing the lobstering community, including the ongoing trade war with China that has resulted in retaliatory tariffs being placed on lobster exports. Last month, he led the Maine Delegation in a letter urging President Trump to provide relief to members of the lobster industry affected by the ongoing trade war with China – much as American farmers received government support to mitigate negative economic consequences. In February, the Maine Delegation called on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to make the lobster industry a priority in the ongoing trade negotiations with China. In June 2018, the Delegation hosted a meeting between top U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) officials and members of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association (MLDA) to discuss the impact of federal trade policies on the state’s lobster industry.
“Senator King is one of the leaders in the Senate in highlighting the threat posted to fisheries by climate change, to ensure that the environment remains hospitable to the lobster industry. This past Wednesday, he spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues and the nation to act to mitigate the threats to lives and vital environmental concerns. In July 2018, he took to the Senate floor to cite the threat climate change poses to Maine’s lobster economy. Also last year he strongly opposed a Department of Interior proposal that would open up the Gulf of Maine to offshore drilling.”