Mills Administration Statement on NOAA's Release of Bi-Op

Augusta, MAINE - Governor Janet Mills and Commissioner of Marine Resources Pat Keliher issued the following statements today on the release of the Biological Opinion, or Bi-Op, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

"The Department of Marine Resources will conduct a thorough evaluation of the Bi-Op, but upon initial review we are pleased that 'no jeopardy' was found," said Governor Janet Mills. "However, the long-term ramifications of this document as it relates to the recovery of right whales and its impact on Maine fisheries over the next ten years remain troubling. In particular, the Bi-Op highlights not only the importance of Canada taking significant steps to reduce right whale mortality, but also the need for NOAA to be able to quantify how risk reduction measures by Canada can reverse the declining trend in the whale population. Failure of either could ultimately lead to unnecessary restrictions in the U.S. -- and that is not acceptable."

"We've been anticipating the release of the Bi-Op based on the August 2020 decision by District Judge James Boasberg and plan to carefully review it," said Pat Keliher, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. "The next step is issuance of a Final Rule which will implement changes to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. We anticipate that the Final Rule will be published later this summer. The Final Rule will outline measures the lobster industry must implement in the near-term. We are hopeful that National Marine Fisheries Service will include conservation equivalencies in the Final Rule so that lobstermen can employ fishing practices that achieve necessary conservation benefits without sacrificing their safety at sea."