I am a small-scale lobster harvester seasonally based on Matinicus Island. I write in response to Pam Ferris-Olson’s Aug. 10 letter concerning proposed regulations for the Maine lobster fishery to reduce the risk of entanglement of North Atlantic right whales.

As understandable as it is to want to do something to protect right whales, risk cannot be reduced where it is not occurring. A review of all 18 years’ worth of data on prior incidents and the best available scientific modeling all show that Maine lobster gear poses virtually zero risk to North Atlantic right whales.

None of the entanglements referred to by Ms. Ferris-Olson occurred in the Maine lobster fishery area. The 18-year data set shows no right whale mortality anywhere near Maine lobstering waters, with the exception of a collision 80 miles east of Portland and one dead right whale that showed no sign of entanglement.

Turning from past data to the best available scientific modeling of future risk, the tool developed to guide the regulatory process also shows very close to a zero likelihood of right whale presence anywhere near Maine lobstering grounds.

Based on the data and scientific modeling, the proposed rules – requiring Maine lobstermen to eliminate half of their traplines, and potentially half their ability to earn a living, while also creating hundreds or thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste – will not save a single North Atlantic right whale.

To say that observing lobster buoys while kayaking somehow demonstrates risk to the North Atlantic right whale is preposterous. If we want to do something, let’s try and have it bear some rational connection to the problem.

Nat Hussey


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