CLF Intervenes in Right Whale Lawsuit

A right whale adult and calf near the water's surface

October 4, 2021 (PORTLAND, ME) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Maine Lobstermen’s Union regarding North Atlantic right whale protections in the Gulf of Maine.

“There is a limited window of time to save critically endangered right whales,” said CLF Senior Attorney Erica Fuller. “Closing certain areas to fishing when high numbers of right whales are present is the most effective way to reduce risk. While NOAA’s final rule has not gone nearly far enough to recover the species, this new closure will reduce the chance that whales become entangled in lobster gear in the Gulf of Maine. The Union’s lawsuit seeks to prevent the government from implementing one of the few proven measures and we cannot stand by and let that happen.”

The Union’s lawsuit against NOAA argues that new regulations aimed at reducing entanglement risk to right whales unfairly target the Maine lobster fishery and should be halted. Specifically, the seasonal closure which prohibits lobster fishing with vertical lines between October and January in areas where right whales are known to congregate. By intervening in this case, we will be pushing for this regulation to remain intact.

CLF and our partners Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife have been pushing for stronger protections as the North Atlantic right whale population continues its decline and dips to less than 370 animals.

CLF experts are available for further comment.