Two Paths That Could Change NOAA Rules

President Biden or the Courts Must Intervene

By Sen. Marianne Moore

The elaborate machinations of the federal bureaucracy have concluded their efforts and decreed lobster fishing in a large swath of the Gulf of Maine will change dramatically in order to protect right whales that, as far as anyone knows, do not visit there. Despite the frustration, anger, and disbelief that has followed this decision, the likelihood that the bureaucratic machinery will somehow shift into reverse and undo the damage is about as likely as a giant pod of right whales will leap onto the stern of a Novi boat out in Zone A.

This leaves those of us who believe these new restrictive rules are a major mistake with two realistic courses of action, and the people who represent you in Augusta and Washington, DC are working on both. One is a legal effort to convince federal courts to reverse NOAA’s actions and reject the rules, and the other is to convince President Biden of the error so he might overrule those he has appointed to lead the relevant federal agencies.

On the legal front, Gov. Mills has hired a private attorney to mount a fight against the rules. This effort is supported by a private lawsuit filed by the Maine Lobstermen’s Association this week, alleging the study on which the regulations are based contains flawed data. This study attributed right whale deaths to the Maine lobster industry that were actually caused by vessels or gear from other fisheries or by non-fishing boats that come into contact with the whales.

On the political front, the universal agreement among elected leaders is unusually universal. Both of our U.S. Senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, and our Congressman, Jared Golden, along with Governor Mills and I have all publicly and forcefully expressed our disappointment in, and opposition to, these new rules.

While our Congressional delegation is working behind the scenes to exert whatever pressure they can on both NOAA and President Biden, here in Maine we have taken the two important steps. In addition to the legal steps, Gov. Mills has formally asked the Biden administration to at least delay implementation of the new rules while the lobstering industry gets its hands around the challenge they face.

All of us who represent this region of the state at every level of government will continue to work in every way possible to stop and reverse these flawed rules and convince President Biden of the federal government’s mistake.