Maine won’t sue over right whale restrictions, but isn’t giving up fight

From the Portland Press Herald, 9/14/21

Maine won’t be suing federal regulators over new commercial lobstering restrictions intended to protect an endangered species of whale, but it isn’t giving up the fight entirely.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has been advised against suing federal officials over a controversial new set of rules designed to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale from being harmed by the lobster industry, but Commissioner Patrick Keliher told Maine lawmakers during a briefing Tuesday that the department has not abandoned all plans for legal action. 

Instead of suing over the rules directly, he said, the department is planning to intervene in an existing case against the National Marine Fisheries Service that was filed by a group of environmentalists who contend the agency hasn’t done enough to protect the critically endangered whales.

The department has hired Linda Larson, a lawyer specializing in environmental and natural resource law, from Nossaman LLP in Seattle. According to Keliher, Gov. Janet Mills has already committed to covering legal fees in what he said will be a “very expensive process.”

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