A public hearing will be held Thursday to discuss a bill aimed at providing financial support to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), a group that represents Maine’s lobster industry.
The bill, proposed by House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), would provide the MLA with a one-time contribution of $1,000,000 to offset large expenses the organization has incurred in recent years as it fights against burdensome federal regulations.
“The Maine lobster industry is under attack,” said Faulkingham, who continues to work his own lobster boat while serving in the legislature.
“It is facing crippling regulations and industry collapsing lawsuits,” said Rep. Faulkingham. “This bill is a move toward leveling the legal playing field by supporting the lobster legal defense fund. It will benefit the fishing families that put food on our table and the thousands of workers that depend on the Maine lobster industry.”
The proposed funding would be transferred to MLA over the next two years to offset legal costs the group incurred fighting proposed federal regulations from the federal Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over the past two years.
NOAA claims that the regulations are intended to reduce the number of endangered right whale in lobstering gear, but the agency has no evidence that any right whales have died as the result of Maine lobstering gear.
The proposed NOAA regulations would impose a significant equipment cost on lobster boat captains. And many lobstermen suspect that the rules are really aimed at crippling the lobster fishery to make way for off-shore wind developers.
Bolstering the legal defense fund would provide security for Maine lobstermen as the conflict with federal regulators is destined to return once the temporary moratorium on new rules that Maine’s congressional delegation secured in a recent omnibus bill expires.
In addition to legal battles, the fishery has been adversely impacted by high fuel costs, high bait costs, and what appears to be a coordinated smear campaign by left-wing environmentalist groups.
On top of all that, lobstermen are now competing with the burgeoning off-shore wind energy industry for control of the Gulf of Maine. And that industry has powerful friends in high office, including Maine Gov. Janet Mills.
Last year, the a non-profit operated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the London-based Marine Stewardship Council both moved to remove sustainability designations for the Maine lobster — moves that resulted in several restaurants and supermarkets, like Whole Foods, joining a boycott.
Faulkingham expressed his concern for the Maine lobster industry, which he says is “under attack” and facing potentially devastating regulations and lawsuits.
Ironically, at the same time NOAA has sought harsher regulations on Maine’s lobstermen and publicly claimed Maine’s lobstermen threaten the endangered whale, NOAA scientists have privately said off-shore wind development, which the Biden Administration strongly supports, could imperil the whales.
The public hearing will be held by the Committee on Marine Resources in the Cross Building, Room 206, at 1:00 PM. The hearing is expected to draw attention from various stakeholders in the industry, including fishermen, environmental advocates, and lawmakers.
The outcome of the public hearing will have a significant impact on the future of Maine’s lobster industry and could set the tone for how the state addresses regulatory and legal challenges moving forward.