Maine looking for new ways to save whales from fishing gear

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine is in the final year of funding for a project that seeks to better protect endangered whales in the Gulf of Maine from entanglement in fishing gear.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources is using the project to collect data about vertical line fishing in the gulf, and develop a model to determine the fishing industry's current use of the lines. The department is also hoping to use the model to predict the conservation benefits of new proposed regulations.

The state is slated to receive more than $200,000 in federal funds for the project this fiscal year, bringing the total federal money it has received to more than $700,000, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement.

The money is part of millions in state funding that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced as part of its Species Recovery Grant Program. The program is intended to help animals that are listed under the Endangered Species Act, such as North Atlantic right whales.

The Maine marine resources department is also working on a project to test weak points in lobster fishing gear to try to reduce entanglements of whales.