MLA Legal Defense Fund

“NMFS got it wrong. The science does not support the agency’s plan. Using worst case scenarios that hold Maine lobstermen accountable for right whale deaths occurring outside our fishing areas won’t help protect right whales, but it will decimate Maine’s lobster industry. Lobstermen have done everything they have been asked to protect right whales and remain committed to doing their part to save the species.”
— Patrice McCarron, MLA executive director

The MLA established the Legal Defense Fund to save Maine’s lobster fishery from onerous regulations and other developments that threaten the future of the fishery. The MLA achieves this through engagement in aggressive legal and policy strategies, ensuring decisions are based on sound science, innovating effective conservation strategies, and strategic communications. Donations to the Legal Defense Fund protect your future and the future of our fishing children.

September 2021- The new whale rules are just the first round in a 10 year battle that will put an end to the lobster fishery as we know it. MLA’s Legal Defense Fund is needed more than ever. We could not have come this far and fought so hard without the support of donors from the lobster fishing industry and beyond.
Help us keep up the fight!

MLA comments on MMPA 2022 List of Fisheries (9/8/21)

MLA Meeting with OMB/OIRA on concerns with FEIS/Final Whale Rule (7/29/21)

MLA comments on Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Final Whale Rule (7/28/21)

MLA/Fishing Industry comments on draft Biological Opinion (2/19/21)

Addenda to MLA Comments on draft Biological Opinion

MLA Comments on Proposed Whale Rule (3/1/2021)

MLA Comments on Draft 2020 Right Whale Stock Assessment Report (3/4/2021)

MLA Comments on Vessel Speed Rule Assessment (3/26/2021)

MLA Comments on Climate Resiliency for Fisheries and Protected Resources (4/2/2021)

Right Whale Entanglement Data

5/27/2021 MLA Press Release on the Biological Opinion

Whale update 3/22/21

On March 12th, the MLA held its 67th Annual Meeting showing the following presentation:

Prior to the meeting, the MLA had spent several intense weeks responding first to the Biological Opinion and secondly to the proposed Whale Rules. Both sets of comments required large amounts of time and money as the MLA was able to hire the necessary lawyers, modelers, and policy experts in order to significantly challenge both proposals. The MLA staff and Board are indebted to those who have contributed thus far to the Legal Defense Fund. It wouldn’t be possible without you.

LDF Business Support! Thank you!

Hamilton Marine, Delano Seafood, and Moody’s gifts will be selling the t-shirt below

Designed by Mary Olsen (from Moody’s gifts) daughters. This tee is being sold for $20 with $10 from each shirt being donated to the LDF.

Colby & Gale, Inc.

Colby & Gale will be donating a portion of all their fuel sales this winter (2020/2021)

Federal Case Ruling 8/20/2020

To: MLA Members and #SaveMaineLobstermen Supporters: Judge Boasberg issued his ruling on remedy in the federal court case, Center for Biological Diversity v. Ross, on August 19. The court will not shut down the lobster fishery or agree to an unprecedented request to designate a massive new closure area unsupported by science and unvetted by the stakeholder process. The judge is giving NMFS until May 31, 2021 to complete the new Biological Opinion and whale rules and requiring the agency to update the court on its progress every 60 days. I have provided more detail and explanation of the court’s order below. Overall this is a great outcome for the Maine lobster industry. MLA effectively communicated the importance of the lobster industry to the court and certainly influenced the constructive way the judge handled this very sensitive decision. This outcome would not have been possible without the tremendous outpouring of support from the lobster industry and our communities. While we welcome this good news, we must also recognize that we still have a long way to go on this issue to ensure that the Maine lobster fishery continues to operate in a manner that does not harm right whales and ensures a viable future for today’s lobstermen and for future generations.

MLA Press Release 5/5/2020

Pew Trust asks NMFS to Close Lobster fishery

Pew petition for emergency closures
The Pew Charitable Trust sent a petition to NMFS in mid-June requesting emergency rules to protect whales by instituting four closures: a massive year-round vertical line closure below Nantucket in Massachusetts, a seasonal vertical line closure offshore of Mount Desert Island (August to October), a seasonal vertical line closure off Jeffreys (May to July), and a massive offshore seasonal closure in Area 3 along the Area1/Area 3 line (Oct to May). Maine has strongly opposed any proposals for closures during the past few years, and they were soundly rejected by the Take Reduction Team because they show little conservation benefit.
The Maine Congressional delegation, Governor Mills and the MLA each sent letters to NMFS urging the agency to reject the Pew petition. Governor Mills raised concerns that this would delay the release of the long-awaited Biological Opinion and draft whale rules. DMR also did a preliminary analysis of the proposed closures and determined that they were likely to increase risk, as much as 12% in some areas, as fishermen shift gear to surrounding areas. The MLA raised concerns that the Pew petition did not address the documented risk to right whales from other sources, noting that right whale entanglement in lobster gear has declined by 90% since 2010 and that 23 right whales have died in Canada since 2017. The MLA also noted that the proposal would cause significant economic harm to lobstermen and likely increase, rather than decrease, risk to whales as lobstermen shift gear to the edges of the closures, and furthermore, would negate all of the input that fishermen have provided to inform the draft rules under development.


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All communications regarding MLA’s Legal Defense Fund should be directed to MLA’s executive director, Patrice McCarron.