FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2018 file photo, a lobster walks over the top of a lobster trap off the coast of Biddeford, Maine. Interstate fishing regulators are grappling in April 2019 with new restrictions on lobster fishing, which faces new limitations designed to protect whales. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

A daunting task begins: Reducing lobster gear to save whales

April 29, 2019 - 3:26 pm

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Fishing managers on the East Coast are beginning the daunting process of implementing new restrictions on lobster fishing that are designed to protect a vanishing species of whale.

A team organization by the federal government recommended last week that the number of vertical trap lines in the water be reduced by about half. The lines can entrap and drown the North Atlantic right whale, which number a little more than 400 and have declined by dozens this decade.

The interstate Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met on Monday near Washington to discuss the implementation of the new rules, which are designed to reduce serious injuries and deaths for whales by 60 percent.

Colleen Coogan coordinates the federal government team designed to protect the whales. She says cooperating with Canadian authorities is going to be very important.

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