(Picture from AP News)
A group of lobster fishermen in Maine has taken legal action against fishing regulators, challenging the constitutionality of new electronic monitoring requirements implemented on December 15. The rules mandate 24-hour electronic tracking devices on boats with federal lobster fishing permits, aiming to enhance data collection for fishery management and protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale from potentially lethal entanglements in fishing gear.
Members of a lobster fishing union filed the lawsuit, opposing the mandate that requires tracking devices to be operational at all times, regardless of the boat's activity. Attorneys for the fishermen argue that constant surveillance is unconstitutional, unwarranted, and unfair to Maine lobstermen, who have a track record as responsible stewards of the ocean.
The contentious issue of fishing monitoring, whether through human observation or electronic surveillance, has sparked debates among commercial fishermen. Regulators emphasize the importance of these rules for data collection and fisheries management, while some fishing groups see them as overreach.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which introduced the monitoring rules in 2022, highlighted the critical need for updated data to support the conservation of the North Atlantic right whale, which numbers fewer than 360 individuals.
The commission is yet to fully review the fishermen's complaint, and Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, asserts that the data collected by the trackers will ultimately benefit lobster fishermen. The tracking devices, funded by Congress, were issued to Maine lobstermen, though not all have installed them. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, awaits a hearing date. #LobsterFishing #WhaleConservation #FisheryManagement"
Source: Patrick Whittle (Jan 8, 2024). Lobster fishers sue to block monitoring laws designed to help save a rare whale. AP News. https://bit.ly/3RXVx0C