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Steaming Ahead | July 2023

First published in Landings, July 2023

The MLA won its appeal in its lawsuit against NMFS! This is a massive and historic victory for all of us and I cannot express to you how much hard work it has taken to get to this point. People, businesses, towns, even school kids have all provided money to help us take on NMFS, hire the best possible lawyers and experts available, and win an incredibly tough legal battle.

The work is far from over, though. Extreme environmental groups and the federal government will not just roll over and go away while the right whale population remains so low. Don’t get me wrong, we have earned an enormous victory for Maine lobstermen and our communities, but we still will get a new Biological Opinion and new whale rules after 2028. We need to make sure they are done correctly.

We did it. We won because of all of us working together to fight a great wrong. MLA Legal Team member Ryan Steen proudly wearing his SaveMaineLobstermen sweatshirt during a visit to Maine. MLA photo.

The offshore wind issue is really heating up in the Gulf of Maine as well. Everything is up for debate, from where the turbines can be placed and where the cables will lie to how these monstrosities will affect the ocean environment. I can assure you that the MLA remains on the front lines of the offshore wind discussions — advocating against offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine — to protect our fishing communities and way of life.

These are the things that the MLA does and has done since 1954. If you are a member of the MLA, I want to sincerely thank you for your support.

If you aren’t, I simply want to ask, why?

Lots of people have congratulated me and even thanked me after the appeal verdict. And I tell them I didn’t do it, the MLA did it. It’s what happens when a bunch of ornery lobstermen work together! When you have a federal agency way overreaching and threatening to put us all out of business, even the cheapest guy on the water figures out he needs to do something.

I understand that lobstermen are a strong-willed bunch and tend to hold grudges, but let’s get real — something an MLA board member said ten years ago or a position MLA had in 1985 shouldn’t keep you from helping us help you.

The MLA’s board of directors is a great representation of the coast, from Downeast to southern Maine, from young guys to old. We don’t always agree on everything, but we always figure out a way to do what is right for today’s lobstermen and the future of the fishery. The whole idea of an association is to have strength in numbers and speak as one powerful voice.

Winning our appeal is a huge victory which should be celebrated. But this is just one battle in a war that wages on. There are many more battles to come and the MLA is ready to fight in them. We absolutely couldn’t have made it through this legal fight without our members and Legal Defense Fund supporters. If you are breathing a sigh of relief that we won this court case, the best way you can show your appreciation for the work the MLA has done is to become a member today. The MLA must be able to fight another day if we are to win the war.

Thank you.

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