PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The federal government annouced new lobster fishing rules designed to protect a rare species of whale on Tuesday.

The rules, which have loomed over the profitable lobster industry for years, are designed to protect the North Atlantic right whale. The whales number only about 360 and they are vulnerable to lethal entanglement in fishing gear.

The rules focus on reducing the number of vertical ropes in the water.

Documents released by the federal government in May said the first phase of the rules will be designed to reduce risk to the whales by 60%, and future phases would call for even more. Members of the lobster fishing industry have said strict new rules could make it difficult to get lobsters to consumers.

Right whales were once abundant off the East Coast, but they were decimated by hunting during the commercial whaling era. They’ve been listed as endangered since 1970.

The lobster industry has been successful in recent years, with heavy hauls of the crustaceans and strong prices for them at markets.

This story will be updated at gloucestertimes.com.

Trending Video

Recommended for you