Regulators eye other fisheries

BAR HARBOR — With new rules for the lobster fishery issued last week, federal regulators are now looking at potential changes to other fisheries on the East Coast to cut down on the risk of injuries to several types of whales.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to hold two scoping sessions this fall to get input on their efforts to cut down potential entanglements and whale mortalities.

Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are considering changes to other trap and pot fisheries other than lobster and Jonah crab in Maine and other New England states, as well as amendments to the East Coast gillnet fishery.

Marisa Trego, an Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team coordinator with NOAA, said that the agency hopes to have a proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement out by 2022 and a final rule for these other fisheries in 2023.

The new rule for the lobster and Jonah crab fishery was issued at the end of August. It was controversial among conservation and lobstermen. Fishermen argue that they are not to blame for the downturn of the species and often point to ship strikes and Canada as the major contributors.

NOAA said they are looking at these issues as well. NOAA is working on a proposed rule for spring 2022 related to reducing vessel strikes to whales, another major hazard along with entanglements.

“We are also investigating (whale) population abundance, status, distribution and health,” said Michael Pentony, an administrator with NOAA, in a press call last week. “We continue to collaborate with Canada on right whale recovery and work towards improving our knowledge of emerging threats and additional factors that may be limiting recovery of the species.”

The session on the trap/pot fisheries will be held on Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. and the one for the gillnet fishery will be Oct. 14 at the same time. The meetings will be held remotely and people wishing to participate can register on NOAA’s website.

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Former reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander, Ethan covered maritime news and the town of Bar Harbor.
Ethan Genter

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