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Lobster fishers ask high court to stop rules to help whales

New rules make around 950-square-mile area of the Gulf of Maine essentially off-limits to lobster fishing from October to January.

PORTLAND, Maine — Members of the Maine lobster fishing industry are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block new fishing restrictions designed to protect a rare species of whale.

The rules, designed to protect North Atlantic right whales, have been the subject of court action in recent weeks. New rules make an approximately 950-square-mile area of the Gulf of Maine essentially off-limits to lobster fishing from October to January.

The Maine Lobstering Union won emergency relief to stop the closure of the lobstering grounds. But the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that the closure is back on.

The lobstering union and others filed an emergency application with the high court on Nov. 24, asking it to vacate the appeals court’s decision, court documents state.

The whales number fewer than 340, and they’re vulnerable to lethal entanglement in fishing gear. They’re also at risk of collisions with ships.

NEWS CENTER Maine STORIES