Golden, Collins, King, Pingree to POTUS: Maine Lobstermen Need Your Help

July 10, 2019
Press Release
Maine delegation asks the president to intervene on behalf of Maine’s lobster industry

WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02), Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) sent an urgent message to the president today asking him to intervene in the implementation of new regulations on Maine lobstermen. In their letter, the Maine delegation contends that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is pushing forward with its rulemaking process despite the fact that the regulations are likely to have serious consequences on the livelihoods of lobstermen and lobstering communities. The letter also notes that there is no credible evidence indicating that the rules would have real impacts on the agency’s stated goal: reducing right whale fatalities. 

We write to urge your intervention in a matter of serious economic importance to the State of Maine,” wrote the delegation to President Trump. Under pressure of threatened lawsuits to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and the development of an Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 review of the American lobster fishery, NOAA is pushing forward with the development of new regulations that will force significant economic hardship on Maine lobstermen without clear evidence that these regulations will have a positive impact on whale conservation efforts... There is no worse government regulation than one that will both fail to produce the desired outcome and will impose severe economic hardships upon working men and women and the communities they support.”

“The voices of hard-working Americans — like lobstermen — are too often ignored by the governing process,” continued the members of Congress. “Your administration has made a point of targeting regulations that you believe are ill-conceived or overly burdensome. By applying the same logic to Maine’s lobster industry and intervening in the implementation of NOAA’s regulations on Maine lobstermen, you can prevent unfair harm to an iconic Maine industry and save many good American jobs.” 

The delegation’s effort has the support of groups and communities representing Maine lobstermen, including IAMAW Local 207, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, and the town manager of Stonington. The lawmakers concluded their letter with an offer to meet with President Trump personally or to facilitate a meeting between the lobstermen and the president.

“It is imperative that these proposed restrictions from the federal government will in fact help protect any whales off the coast of Maine prior to Maine lobstermen being forced to remove 50% of their end lines. The impact of these proposed changes will have a long-lasting negative effect on the lobster industry and put the lobstermen’s safety at risk. Over the last 10 years, Maine lobstermen have already taken many steps to protect the right whales even though they are rarely seen in Maine waters. We support this effort to get the White House to intervene. This is a crisis and it’s time to get the President involved.” - David T. Sullivan, Grand Lodge Representative, International Association of Machinists, Maine Lobstering Union, Local 207

“The Maine lobster industry understands that right whales are at risk and we want to be part of the solution. But the data shows that Maine is just a small part of a large and complex problem. Maine’s solution must be right-sized to reflect the risk our fishery poses to right whales. We will not implement changes to our fishery to achieve an arbitrary goal if those measures won’t actually benefit the right whale.” - Patrice McCarron, Executive Director, Maine Lobstermen’s Association. 

“Stonington wouldn’t be here without our lobstermen. Everything in our town is tied in some way to the lobster boats. It’s unbelievable to me that the government would move forward with regulations that will put many lobstermen out of business if they don’t even know the regulations will work. If there’s a chance the president can help lobstermen in communities like Stonington by blocking these regulations, we should seize the opportunity.” – Kathleen Billings, Town Manager, Stonington, Maine

The Maine delegation has worked together to raise the alarm over the process and data NOAA has used to develop its proposed rules. Last month, Golden and Pingree introduced an amendment that would have temporarily blocked NOAA’s efforts, which failed on the House floor. 

You can read the full letter here.