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Feds press on with plan after lobstermen exit whale pact

NOAA Fisheries said Wednesday the right whale species is at a 'critical point.'

PORTLAND, Maine — An arm of the federal government says it's disappointed that a lobster fishing group is pulling its support of a proposal to help endangered whales, but will continue to work with the fishermen.

The Maine Lobstermen's Association has said the proposal to save North Atlantic right whales places too much of the onus on lobster fishermen. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service said Wednesday the species is at a "critical point," with only about 400 animals left.

The agency says it's reviewing information provided by the lobstermen's association that said the current proposal was too punitive. The plan could result in the removal of 50% of Maine's lobster trap lines from the water.

The fisheries service still needs to develop the whale plan into proposed rules.

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