Backing lobstermen, Rep. Golden seeks to withhold funds for right whale protections

June 19, 2019
In The News

Rep. Jared Golden wants to withhold federal funding for the implementation of lobster fishing rules intended to protect the endangered right whale, claiming the government is basing the regulations on an untested scientific tool.

Maine’s 2nd District congressman, a Democrat, introduced an amendment to a pending appropriations bill that would effectively block controversial right whale regulations requiring Maine’s $485 million a year industry to cut the number of buoy lines in the Gulf of Maine by 50 percent to prevent fatal fishing gear entanglements.

 Lobstermen tell regulators: Give us fewer buoy lines, but let us fish them how we want

“The federal government is asking Maine lobstermen to make huge sacrifices without clear evidence that those sacrifices will have any positive impact on right whales,” Golden wrote in a statement Wednesday. “I’ve joined lobstermen to voice our concerns and now it’s time for action.

Golden said it is important to help the right whale, but he joined the Maine lobster industry and Maine’s fishing managers in a common refrain: the federal government has no conclusive proof that right whales are getting hurt or killed by entanglement in Maine lobster gear.

Instead, Golden and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, a co-sponsor of Golden’s amendment, question NOAA’s decision to use a data tool that has not been subjected to the review of independent, third-party scientists to quantify the estimated risk to right whales.

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