Governor Mills Blasts Federal Court Decision in Lawsuit Challenging Federal Regulations Hurting Maine’s Vital Lobster Industry

Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement tonight blasting a decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia siding with the National Marine Fisheries Services in Maine Lobstermen’s Association v National Marine Fisheries Service, a lawsuit that challenges Federal regulations hurting Maine’s vital lobster industry.

The Mills Administration, through the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), had been granted intervenor status in the case, spearheaded by the Maine Lobsterman’s Association, to stand up for the lobster industry and its hard working men and women in the face of the Federal government’s burdensome proposal.

“This decision is extremely disappointing, to say the least. The National Marine Fisheries Service has consistently interpreted the data in the most conservative way possible, without accounting for the impact of ship strikes on whales and whale entanglements in Canadian snow crab gear, putting all of the burden for right whale protection squarely on the shoulders of Maine’s lobster fishery,” said Governor Mills. “Maine lobstermen care about the endangered right whale and have undertaken substantial actions to protect them at great personal expense; but the Federal government’s regulations are simply not based in sound science or proven fact. This federal court decision, so out of touch with reality, adds insult to injury to an industry that supports the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Maine families. We will continue to stand with the Maine lobstermen and confer with the Maine Lobsterman’s Association concerning next steps.”

In Maine Lobstermen’s Association v National Marine Fisheries Service the Maine Lobstermen’s Association asserted that the National Marine Fisheries Service’s new Biological Opinion, released in May 2021, is unlawful. The plaintiffs argued that NMFS acted arbitrarily by failing to rely on the best available scientific information and by failing to account for the positive impact of costly conservation measures already adopted by the Maine lobster fishery.