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MLA legal team expands, support from lobstermen key to its success

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) welcomes Jane Luxton, a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based firm of Lewis Brisbois to its expanded Legal Defense Team. Luxton joins MLA’s longstanding attorney, Mary Anne Mason, who has lead MLA’s legal effort since 2007. “We are thrilled to bring this level of talent to our Legal Defense Team,” said Patrice McCarron, MLA’s executive director. “Given the existential threat the whale issue poses to the Maine lobster industry, we needed major legal talent with a track record on high-profile issues. Jane knows the federal process from the inside out and will ensure that MLA’s position is elevated to the highest levels needed.”

Abel Philbrook (left) and cousins Caleb and Josiah Danforth. What does the future hold for these young lobstermen? M. Philbrook photo.

Luxton has served in several prominent positions in the U.S. government. From 2007 to 2009, she served as general counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), advising senior decision makers on legal and policy issues related to fisheries management, endangered species and marine mammal protection. “Jane’s high-level experience of the inner workings of NOAA and impeccable track record in federal regulatory, policy, and litigation matters are a game changer in demanding accountability and fair treatment from the National Marine Fisheries Service,” said McCarron. The MLA started its Legal Defense Fund in 2007 in response to a lawsuit by environmental groups. The stakes are now much higher. At least 20 right whales have died in Canada since 2017, raising the prospect the species may be at risk of extinction, and creating pressure for urgent, effective action. MLA’s goal is to ensure comprehensive action is taken by all stakeholders that pose a risk to right whales, not just lobstermen. “Regulating U.S. fishermen will not prevent right whales from dying in Canada. And limiting regulations to only lobstermen will not solve entanglement problems in the U.S.,” said MLA’s attorney Mason. “The MLA has assembled a stellar team to implement a multi-pronged strategy to champion the interests of Maine lobstermen and ensure that management efforts are effective in reversing the decline of the right whale population.” The MLA is attacking the whale issue on all fronts — through the regulatory process, the courts, with federal agency staff, with Maine DMR, and with state and federal politicians. MLA also educates the media and the public that Maine lobstermen were the first to step up to protect right whales, and they remain on the frontlines to keep the Gulf of Maine safe for them. The MLA has been leading the fight against rules that unfairly target Maine lobstermen for more than 20 years. The association stands ready to do whatever it takes to ensure that Maine lobstermen are treated fairly and that future management actions are safe, effective and necessary. The MLA is prepared for this fight, but it must have support from lobstermen to succeed. “The MLA has assembled the talent and the strategy. Now we are asking anyone who cares about the future of the Maine lobster industry to support MLA’s Legal Defense Fund. The future of our industry is at stake,” said McCarron.

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