Maine Governor To Take Side Of Fishing Biz In Whale Lawsuit

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine's governor is intervening in a federal lawsuit that concerns the future of right whale protections and lobster fishing off New England.

The lawsuit was filed by conservation group Center for Biological Diversity against the federal government and it makes the case that federal management of the lobster fishing industry violates federal law because it can harm the rare whales. The whales are vulnerable to lethal entanglement in fishing gear.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills of Maine said Monday a federal judge has granted her administration the ability to intervene in the lawsuit, and she is doing so to help protect the fishing industry. Intervening is a “critically important step in the state’s efforts to support Maine’s vital lobster industry," she said.

Mills said her administration has contracted a law firm that has experience litigating Endangered Species Act issues to represent the state as an intervenor.

The Maine Lobstermen's Association also filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Monday charging new rules designed to protect the whales are not based on the best available science.