Governor Mills Calls on Commerce Secretary to Delay Implementation of Gear Marking & Modification in Proper Whale Rule

In a letter at present to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Governor Janet Mills urged swift motion by NOAA Fisheries to cut back the pointless financial hurt to Maine fishermen that the not too long ago introduced Federal whale safety rule will trigger.

“I don’t imagine this rule, as written, ought to take impact in any respect, and, on the very least, I urge you to direct NOAA Fisheries to delay the rule’s implementation of drugs marking and equipment modifications (together with each trawling up and insertion of weak factors) to July 1, 2022,” wrote Governor Mills.

“It’s fully unfair that Maine lobstermen proceed to be the first goal of burdensome rules, regardless of the various efficient mitigation measures they’ve taken and regardless of the information displaying that ship strikes and Canadian fishing gear proceed to pose vital danger to proper whales,” she wrote.

On August 31, 2021, the Nationwide Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) issued the Atlantic Massive Whale Take Discount Rule. In response, Governor Mills joined U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden is opposing the rule.

In her letter at present, Governor Mills highlighted gear marking necessities which might be “alarmingly completely different than what was within the proposed rule.” Maine applied a state-specific gear marking regulation in 2020 that offered flexibility to fishermen who transfer gear from offshore to inshore waters. After speaking with NOAA, Maine anticipated it might be mirrored within the last rule. As a substitute, the ultimate rule would require many fishermen to “buy a second set of endlines,” wrote Governor Mills. She identified that the fee to fishermen for a second set of endlines is estimated to be over $9 million.

Income loss related to the Might 1, 2022 implementation deadline for required gear marking and modification may also unfairly burden Maine fishermen. “Fishermen who fish year-round normally don’t start to rotate their gear inshore till Might. Nonetheless, with a purpose to meet the rule’s new necessities, fishermen anticipate a month or extra of drugs work to change into compliant. As a result of NOAA deadline, gear will have to be introduced again to port in March or April, when the worth of lobster could be very excessive,” wrote Governor Mills.

The anticipated loss from the implementation date, which was established with out enter from business, is between $15 million and $25 million.

Governor Mills has repeatedly stood up for Maine’s important lobster business and its working women and men within the face of the Federal authorities’s proper whale proposal. Final 12 months, she wrote to the Commerce Division urging it to disclaim a petition by Pew Charitable Trusts that asks for 3 seasonal offshore closures within the Gulf of Maine and that might prohibit using vertical strains within the American lobster and Jonah crab fisheries in 4 areas of the New England coast.

She additionally filed feedback with the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the draft Organic Opinion for ten fishery administration plans within the Larger Atlantic Area, specializing in the North Atlantic Proper Whale, expressing “grave concern” and warning it is going to be economically devastating and can basically change Maine’s lobster fishery.

Her Administration, by means of the Maine Division of Marine Assets, additionally plans to file for intervenor standing within the pending litigation Middle for Organic Variety v. Ross within the U.S. District Court docket within the D.C. Circuit in an effort to keep away from having the court docket vacate the organic opinion (BiOp). If the organic opinion is vacated by the court docket, the potential end result is a closure of the complete fishery. The Governor is supporting the trouble by funding using specialised exterior counsel by means of the Governor’s Contingent Account.

A duplicate of the letter is connected (PDF).

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