Biden administration sued by Massachusetts lobstermen for closing waters to protect endangered whales
The Biden administration closed part of the Massachusetts coast on February 1
Massachusetts lobster fishermen have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its closure of fishing grounds done with the intention of protecting an endangered species of whale.
The lawsuit stems from the February 1 closure of 200 square miles of the Massachusetts Bay that will prevent lobster fishing until the end of April in a move that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says was necessary to protect the North Atlantic right whales from being tangled in fishing ropes.
The whales number only about 340 in the world and return to the waters off New England every spring. But the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association contends the closure is illegal and will cause economic harm to the industry.
The fishing group is waiting to hear about a court date, said Beth Casoni, the group's executive director. The group said in court filings that the closure harms an industry that is "essential to Massachusetts’s culture, heritage, identity and economy," and the court should reopen the fishing grounds.
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A spokesperson for NOAA told Fox News Digital the agency can not comment on pending litigation.
"This action isn’t warranted, it’s overreaching and quite frankly it’s unacceptable," Casoni said.
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Gabriella Hoffman, host of the District of Conservation podcast and Independent Women’s Forum senior fellow, told Fox News Digital that the Biden administration is going about protecting the endangered whales in the wrong way.
"NOAA Fisheries is focusing its efforts on the wrong target with this proposed closure. Lobstermen aren’t imperiling the endangered North Atlantic right whale; offshore wind turbines increasingly are with the effects of geotechnical surveys," Hoffman said. "They should focus their efforts on protecting these whales from this very obvious threat."
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The lawsuit comes as lobstermen in Maine are also clashing with the Biden administration arguing that federal rules aimed at protecting the right whale in federal waters crush the state's $1 billion lobster industry and the blue-collar lobstermen who keep it going.
"I don't know what we would even retrain lobstermen to do. A lot of guys are already talking about potentially selling their boats and moving elsewhere," Patrice McCarron, the executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association (MLA), told FOX Business in an interview last month.
"The economy is so rural here that it's, you couldn't overstate how much losing the lobster dollars coming into the communities will debilitate everything."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.
The Associated Press contributed to this report