A North Atlantic right whale known as “Giza” and her calf were seen east of the St. Johns River entrance near Jacksonville, Fla., on March 4. FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION PHOTO

Whale activist attempts to intervene in right whale case

WASHINGTON — With federal officials set to unveil new rules on the lobster fisheries at the end of the month, a well-known animal rights activist made a late attempt to try and stop the industry from being allowed to use vertical buoy ropes.  

Richard “Max” Strahan tried to intervene at the beginning of the month in the federal right whale court case that holds the future of the lobster industry in its hands, but the activist’s attempt was rejected by a judge less than a week later.  

Strahan filed his motion on May 8 and claimed that the only way the industry would stop using the ropes is by a court-ordered injunction. Without such an injunction, right whales would inevitably go extinct, he claimed. 

He sought to prosecute the National Marine Fisheries Service, the agency responsible for the regulations, and other lobster industry groups “for their acting in concert over the course of decades to repeatedly and deliberately engage in conduct prohibited by” the Endangered Species Act, he wrote.  

The National Marine Fisheries Service and the lobster groups are currently being sued by several environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, and the service has been ordered to come up with new rules for the industry in order to protect right whales.

But Strahan argued that those groups and the other plaintiffs do not serve the public interest nor are they seeking to protect the preservation of the Endangered Species Act.  

Instead, he called them “Trojan Horse Plaintiffs” that are seeking to aid the defendants in evading any enforcement action.

Fishery regulators in New England were previously found to have broken the Endangered Species Act by allowing lobster fishing in state waters with vertical lines without first getting an “incidental take permit” from the fisheries service. 

The service is expected to come out with its new rules for the fishery by May 31.  

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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