In light of pending federal regulations to protect right whales, Commissioner Patrick Keliher has held a series of Zone Council meetings to gather feedback from Maine’s fishermen about how these regulations could impact your operations, your livelihood, our economy, and our state. I am grateful to the more than 1,200 fishermen who took the time to participate in these meetings and share their views.
Commissioner Keliher has briefed me on what he learned, and it is clear to me – as it is to you – that the federal government’s pending regulations are unfair, unreasonable, and unwarranted. I will not stand idly by as Washington attempts to threaten your livelihoods and our way of life.
Maine’s lobster industry is a critical pillar of our state’s economy and it is that way because of your hard-work and that of generations before you. To people around the world, Maine lobster is more than just a culinary delicacy, it is a proud symbol of our state’s strong work-ethic and our unshakable grit and determination. Today, Maine’s 4,800-plus commercial harvesters and nearly three hundred wholesale dealers support their families, breathe life into their communities, provide jobs, and help sustain a unique and treasured way of life.
But Maine lobstermen also face mounting challenges, like questionable tariffs out of Washington and a worsening bait shortage. These issues are difficult enough to confront without the heavy hand of the federal government trying to make life even harder for you through misguided regulations – ones not even supported by data.
There is a disturbing lack of evidence connecting the Maine lobster industry to recent right whale deaths. To the contrary, the six right whale deaths in Canada this year, in addition to the three right whales recently discovered entangled in Canadian waters, are evidence that the Maine lobster fishery is not the primary problem for right whales.
Based on the lack of evidence connecting the Maine lobster fishery to recent right whale mortalities and the risk of negatively and profoundly altering our fisheries because of these pending regulations, I have directed Commissioner Keliher to evaluate a risk reduction target for Maine that is commensurate to any actual risk posed by the Maine lobster industry – not the 60 percent risk reduction target assigned by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Commissioner will come back to the industry in August, as promised, to share the Department’s findings and put forward a plan to reduce risk in Maine.
Maine may be known across the globe for its lobster, but the federal government should know, too, that it underestimates our determination to protect this great state and the fishermen, like you, who are at the heart of it. My Administration will not allow any bureaucrat to undermine our lobster industry or our economy with foolish, unsupported, and ill-advised regulations. I stand with you and I will do everything I can as your Governor to protect your rights and your livelihoods and defend Maine’s lobster industry in the face of absurd federal overreach.
Janet T. Mills