Statement from Maine Lobstermen’s Association on Court Ruling

KENNEBUNK – Below is a statement from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association following today’s decision in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) will not allow this industry to go down without a fight. Today’s ruling from the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia is a mixed bag but clearly demonstrates why it’s more important than ever for MLA to have the financial resources to continue this battle.

The court granted two of the plaintiffs’ six claims, ruling that certain aspects of the 2021 Biological Opinion (BiOp) and 2021 Final Whale Rule are invalid. However, the court has not shut down the fishery or decided on a remedy yet. As the Court stated, “[t]he Court’s findings at this juncture do not dictate that it must immediately shutter the American lobster fishery; indeed, it is cognizant of what a weighty blow that would inflict.” Instead, the Court has requested the parties to submit additional briefing about what remedy should be ordered by the Court.

The Court also acknowledged that, after further review, the agency may find “that projected take [of endangered whales] is in fact lower than originally estimated.” This is precisely why MLA filed its own lawsuit against NMFS, which remains pending. MLA’s case demonstrates that the government’s order for a 98% reduction in the lobster fishery’s minimal risk to right whales rests solely on hypothetical, inflated estimates unsupported by the agency’s own data. These are issues that MLA believes the court must direct the agency to examine rigorously.

Patrice McCarron, Executive Director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, states, “We are still reviewing the Court’s opinion with our lawyers, but we are heartened that the Court recognizes the great importance of Maine’s lobstering heritage and appreciates the potential and unnecessary harm that could be imposed on the men and women who work so hard to make our industry thrive.”