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LePage talks to White House about controversy over lobstermen restrictions

The former Maine governor had a phone conversation with 'senior White House officials,' his political organization says.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Former Gov. Paul LePage continues to be involved with the debate over proposed new regulations on Maine lobstermen, designed to protect right whales.

Several weeks ago, Gov. LePage sent a letter to President Donald Trump, opposing those new restrictions and saying they are an "overreach" by the government because Maine fishermen aren’t harming the whales.

Now the former governor’s political organization says LePage had a phone conversation on the issue today with what it calls "senior White House officials."

RELATED: Mills, LePage find agreement on helping lobstermen fight feds

“I’m pleased to say that today was a good first step … I am hopeful a solution can be found that is focused on science and not statistics," the governor is quoted as saying.

Asked if the Mills administration was consulted about the discussion with the Trump administration, Julie Rabinowitz of Maine People Before Politics said the White House contacted LePage. She said the former governor told the White House to include Maine Marine Resources Commissioner Pat Keliher in the discussion, and that LePage contacted the Mills administration to tell them of the call as soon as it was over.

Commissioner Keliher has said he will announce a plan later this month for how Maine should respond to the federal government’s whale demands.

Gov. Janet Mills has said she is opposed to those new restrictions, and instructed Keliher to only regulate Maine fishermen for the impact they actually have on right whales. Gov. Mills has agreed with fishermen that they have minimal effect on the whales, and that the proposed federal restrictions would cause severe harm to the industry with little or no benefit to whales.