PORTLAND — A key legislative committee in Maine is set to consider a pair of proposals for helping the lobster industry cope with new fishing restrictions.
One plan would create a $30 million fund to help fishermen adapt to the new rules, which are meant to protect a type of rare whale. The other would create a legal defense fund to help the lobster industry navigate the new rules, laws and regulations.
Both proposals face potential votes before the Maine Legislature's Committee on Marine Resources on Tuesday.
The whales number less 340 and are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear. They’re also at risk of collisions with large ships. Their populations have declined in recent years, and they've also suffered poor reproduction.
The legal defense fund proposal says it would be funded with money from license surcharges and the sale of lobster trap tags. Some members of the industry have balked at the idea in part because those fees are currently used for other purposes.
The Maine Lobstermen's Association has backed the proposal for the $30 million fund to help fishermen, though. That money could be used for necessities such as boat payments in a time when the industry faces financial hardship.