Notice from Commissioner Keliher: NMFS Upcoming In-Person Scoping Session Announcement

Please see the notice below from NOAA regarding an in-person scoping session in Maine.   NOAA has scheduled this scoping session because Governor Mills worked with the Secretary of Commerce to ensure she understood how important it was for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to come to Maine and hear directly from Maine fishermen.

As a reminder, this scoping session is being held by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in response to a federal judge in Washington DC who ruled on the side of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGO’s) who have sued the Service for not doing enough to protect right whales. This decision has forced the NMFS to fast-track the 10 year plan whale plan and implement a 90% risk reduction years ahead of schedule. This scoping meeting is the first part of a process that should take two years to play out, assuming the same federal judge doesn’t continue to rule with the ENGO’s and force a faster timeline.

You might be asking yourself why we should bother to participate in this process if Maine, the MLA and MLU continue to be engaged in the federal court? The short answer is because we have no idea how courts will rule, no matter how good the arguments the State of Maine and industry groups have made.  It is imperative that we participate in the process to provide Maine’s input because if we don’t, the federal government will act without your input. Your voice needs to be heard, and your ideas and personal impacts need to be shared.

While there will be more opportunities to speak to NOAA on the record regarding future rules, this will be the only face to face opportunity for you to provide input on the development of potential measures. 

We encourage you to participate and if you do it is critically important that you speak to potential measures, and how they will impact your business, family and community.  If you have additional ideas regarding measures you feel should be considered in this round of federal rulemaking please raise them.  It is important to note that NOAA can only consider measures that are identified through this scoping process.  

It’s also very important that Maine’s concerns and priorities be included in the administrative record, and your testimony is a key component of that record.

Suggestions for what to address in your comments during the scoping session include:

  • How a 90% risk reduction target will impact you
  • How a 90% risk reduction target will impact your community
  • What types of measures you think should be considered
  • That the timeline is too short for development of thoughtful measures - there's not enough time for DMR and industry to meet and develop and refine ideas
  • Why you feel public input from the fishing industry is needed in this process


In-Person Scoping Meeting for Modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan in Portland, ME

Wednesday, October 5 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m

We will be conducting an in-person scoping meeting to collect public input on modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan to reduce the risk of death and serious injury caused by U.S. commercial fishing gear to endangered North Atlantic right whales in compliance with the mandates of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

What is Scoping?

Scoping is an opportunity for citizens to provide input on the range of issues to be addressed for significant regulatory actions in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which evaluates the overall impacts of regulations. 

We are seeking suggestions for measures for all U.S. commercial fisheries regulated by the Plan (U.S. East Coast gillnet, Atlantic mixed species trap/pot, and Mid-Atlantic and Northeast lobster and Jonah crab trap/pot fisheries) that would reach a 90% minimum risk reduction needed to bring mortality and serious injury below the potential biological removal level for this species.

How to Comment

Attend our in-person scoping meeting

Wednesday, October 5, 2022 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Community Education Center Hannaford Hall  88 Bedford St Portland, Maine 04101

Comments provided at the meeting will be recorded.

Provide written comments

Attendance at a scoping meeting is not the only way to provide comments. You may also submit comments in writing through our online portal, The scoping period is open through October 11, 2022. 

More Information

For more background, please review the information on our Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan web page, the Right Whale Unusual Mortality Event web page, and the many recorded webinars.

See a recording of the virtual scoping meeting held on September 27, 2022 and the meeting materials on our website.


Regarding scoping: Contact

Media: Contact Allison Ferreira, Regional Office, 978-281-9103