Share this article
Doubts finally end for Maine lobstermen after a unanimous 3-0 ruling in favor of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Maine lobstermen regarding restrictions for the protection of right whales.
A clear majority opinion with which the fishermen put an end to this judicial process which they found themselves in 2021. Thus, U.S. Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg would determine that the service went too far in its risk evaluation of the potential harm to the fishing industry of this nature.
The whole court battle began in September 2021. On that date, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) filed a lawsuit against the federal government’s 10-year whale plan. The MLA filed the lawsuit arguing that the 10-year whale plan, intended to protect the North Atlantic right whale and sustain Maine’s lobster fishery, was fundamentally flawed.
A disproportionate scientist assessment
Likewise, from the outset, the MLA contended that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) “overstated the lobster industry’s impact on right whales by selectively using scientific data, unsupported assumptions, and worst-case scenarios to justify a 98% reduction in the fishery’s already minimal risk to these whales.” The MLA further alleged that NMFS failed to meet its legal obligations to evaluate the economic and social costs associated. Now the courts agree with it.
The court’s ruling considers that NMFS overstepped its authority and drew worst-case scenarios. In other words, the Service’s biological opinion is contrary to the law. Concretely, “the statute is focused upon ‘likely’ outcomes, not worst-case scenarios. It requires the Service to use the best available scientific data, not the most pessimistic.”
Patrice McCarron, executive director of the MLA, said on Friday in the Maine Public that she was “absolutely ecstatic.”
“The only reason we entered into this case was because we were quite literally fighting for our lives. Fighting for the future survival of the lobster industry. And this is a great day for the NMFS to have to go back and redo their work and do it in a way that can save whales without eliminating our fishery,” said McCarron.
The NMFS spokesperson refrained from commenting on the ongoing litigation, as it pertains to their agency. Similarly, the conservation groups involved in the legal fight have not provided any immediate statements or responses.
Share this article