As reported in this paper, Gov. Mills wrote to the National Marine Fisheries Service on Feb. 19 regarding her “grave concern” about its plan aimed at protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales. The letter reveals just how deeply she is is misinformed on this subject.

That in itself is not surprising. The governor is far from alone in being misinformed, as a tremendous amount of misleading information and outright myths has put out there by the Maine lobster industry, politicians and media. I would like to respond to one of those myths.

Mills wrote: “Maine, and other U.S. fisheries, should not have to pay an ever-increasing price for the risk facing right whales as they travel into Canadian waters.” This would have most readers believing that U.S. fisheries pose no risks to the whales, which is not true.

In fact, the National Marine Fisheries Service has determined that, of the documented right whale entanglements between 1997 and 2017 where the set location and type of gear were known, the lobster fishery entangled 11 whales in waters off New England. It also stated, in its 2018 Stock Assessment Report, that right whale entanglement deaths have occurred equally in U.S. and Canadian waters.

According to a new scientific report by Richard M. Pace III and Rob Williams, many more right whale mortalities occur beyond the documented ones, pushing the number of human-caused right whale deaths in U.S. waters up even further.

Gov. Mills should better inform herself and work to protect right whales, as well as Maine fishermen.

Russell Wray

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