Changes to lobster fishery to help whales might arrive 2021

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) — Changes to the Maine lobster fishery designed to help a critically endangered species of whale might arrive in 2021 after a lengthy rulemaking process.

A team assembled by the federal government has called for the removal of half the vertical trap lines from the Gulf of Maine to reduce risk to the North Atlantic right whales. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has been meeting with lobstermen around the state to begin the process of crafting rules to achieve that goal.

Department spokesman Jeff Nichols says the state hopes to present a plan to the federal government by September. That would be followed by public hearings.

The state held the last of several meetings with lobstermen about the new rules on Thursday in Freeport. Hundreds have attended the meetings.