ELLSWORTH- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is looking for more ways to protect right whales.
Fishermen, representatives, and others concerned about pending regulations meant to protect right whales filled a room at Ellsworth High School on Tuesday night.
“We are not the problem,” said Rocky Alley, the president of the Maine Lobstering Union. “We are trying to work with NOAA, but every 5 years they come up with regulations causing us more expense, more harm, and it doesn’t save another whale.”
In a presentation NOAA officials said there were 3 documented right whale deaths in 2018, none of which were in Maine.
“The majority of right whale deaths nobody sees,” said Michael Asaro, the Team Lead for NOAA’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Team. “They occur out in the open ocean and are never observed by anybody. We know that because the populations been declining for almost a decade. “
Even though most entanglements have been in Massachusetts and Canada, NOAA is recommending regulations that would include line reduction, weaker ropes, and closed areas.
Fishermen say it would create safety risks and take money out of their pockets.
Senator Angus King said he was at the meeting to encourage NOAA officials to make decisions based on facts.
“Nobody wants to see us lose the right whales,” King said. “On the other hand, we want to do it in the right way so we also don’t have endangered families.”
NOAA officials said they won’t make any decisions about regulations until they’ve gotten more feedback from fishermen.
A meeting similar to this one will be held on Wednesday, August 14th, in Waldoboro at Medomak Valley High School from 6 to 9 p.m.