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Senator Collins Secures Funds for Maine’s Lobster Industry

Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has secured $15,065,000 in the draft Fiscal Year 2022 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill to support Maine’s lobster industry. The bill must still be voted upon by the full Senate and House.

Sen. Susan Collins, (R) Maine, candidate for US Senate. Official portrait obtained from Office of Senator Susan Collins.

“The seafood industry is a vital part of Maine’s economy and heritage, sustaining jobs and strengthening our coastal communities,” said Senator Collins. “The livelihoods of the Mainers who work in this industry were recently jeopardized by a rule from the National Marine Fisheries Service. This rule, which is intended to protect the fragile right whale population, unfairly targets Maine’s lobstermen and women and does not reflect reality in the Gulf of Maine. This funding would support our state’s iconic lobster industry by engaging stakeholders in the local and regional seafood systems, helping to cover the costs incurred by lobstermen as a result of the misguided rule, and improving the incomplete and imprecise science upon which the federal government relies."

The funding includes:  

  1. $765,000 to help the lobster industry plan for the future. This process would engage with and prepare stakeholders on ways to preserve the industry in the face of burdensome right whale-related regulations, which are having far-reaching impacts across Maine’s coastal communities and economy.   

  2. $10 million to help the lobster industry comply with new regulations. This funding was included in the CJS Appropriations bill and will cover costs paid for by the lobster industry to comply with the final rule to modify the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan, including gear modification, configuration, and marking requirements, which are currently set to take effect in May 2022. 

  3.  $300,000 to improve scientific understanding of right whale migration patterns. This funding would support a continuous plankton recorder survey to better track the movement of right whales’ primary food source, which is a strong indicator of the whales’ migration patterns.  The National Marine Fisheries Service’s own data support the conclusion that right whales are traversing offshore waters of the Gulf of Maine less and less frequently as waters warm and the species’ primary food source moves further offshore and northward into colder Canadian waters.

  4.  $4 million in vital right whale-related research, monitoring, and conservation efforts. This funding will spur partnerships among lobster fishermen, state agencies, and research institutions toward developing operational technologies that will help the lobster industry in the Gulf of Maine.

Senator Collins also secured instructions to NOAA to complete an assessment and cumulative estimate of any economic losses incurred by the lobster industry that are directly related to the final rule and to work with Canada to develop risk reduction measures that are comparable in effectiveness for both fisheries and vessels.


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