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Guest Column - We cannot win this battle without your support

It’s never easy to ask for help. But the truth is if all of us whose livelihoods depend on Maine’s lobster industry don’t step up in a big way, we are all in deep trouble.

As you know, the federal government has laid out a 10-year plan that is supposed to protect right whales. But we see the writing on the wall. We know that there is no realistic way for Maine lobstermen to comply with what the government is asking us to do.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) board of directors has said enough is enough — we’re not going to let this happen without a fight.

To donate online or to find out more, go to www.savemainelobstermen.org

The MLA has hired the best legal team we could find and we filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. in September. We are aiming big — the MLA is going after NMFS’s entire 10-year plan because it is that plan that ultimately will erase Maine’s lobster industry.

MLA president Kristan Porter, left; MLA vice president Dustin Delano, right. MLA photo.

We believe that the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) failed to use the best scientific information and does not account for the success of all of the conservation measures we’ve adopted over the last 20 years when it developed this flawed plan.

Scientists know that right whales are rare off the coast of Maine and several recent publications show they continue to shift even further away from where we fish. Fighting this fight in court won’t be cheap, but we don’t have a choice. Environmental groups have deep pockets.

So, we’re asking you to ask yourself — what can I do to help MLA fight back and win? We all know that this has been a good year. Despite record expenses, we’ve generally had good hauls and higher prices at the dock this season. Now is the time to contribute, and if we all give even a little – it will help a lot.

There are about 4,800 licensed lobstermen in Maine. If each of us gave just $1,000 to the MLA’s “Save Maine Lobstermen” fund, we’d be $4.8 million closer to our $10 million goal. That’s nearly halfway! If each gave just $500, we’d have $2.4 million more to help us win.

Each one of our board of directors is committed to putting his money where his mouth is. We have all pledged to donate at least $1,000. We’re asking you to do the same and to ask your friends and other lobstermen you know to give as well.

We’re proud of the support that we have already received. The Port Clyde Co-op has pledged to donate $5,000 a year for the next three years, and the York Lobstermen’s Association just donated $5,000 for the second year in a row. But we also know we can’t fight this fight alone.

That is why we are asking Maine’s business community, which relies on a strong lobster industry to keep the local economies going, to back us in this battle.

You know who they are — the businesses in your towns where you shop, eat, do your banking, buy your vehicles, and get your gas. Ask for their help. Share the website, www.savemainelobstermen.org, or tell them to call MLA’s office at 207-967-4555.

We are in a decade-long battle to save the lobster fishery and we need everyone to be involved!

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