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Governor pushes back at feds on protection for rare whales

FILE - In this March 28, 2018 file photo, the baleen is visible as a North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in July 2019 that a federal plan to help endangered right whales at the expense of fishermen is "foolish" and is directing the state to come up with rules with a lesser impact on lobster fishermen. Maine's congressional delegation is backing the governor. North Atlantic right whales are facing the threat of extinction. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Gov. Janet Mills says a federal directive aimed at protecting endangered right whales represents an “absurd federal overreach.”

She says she’s telling the state to come up with its own proposal with a lesser impact on lobster fishermen.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants Maine to present a plan in September for reducing the lobster industry’s threat to right whales by 60 per cent.

The plan would mean reducing by half the number of lobster trap lines that could entangle whales.

But the Democratic governor says that Maine’s lobster industry isn’t the “primary problem” and that bureaucrats shouldn’t undermine the industry with “foolish, unsupported, and ill-advised regulations.”

Maine’s congressional delegation, which supports Mills, says a “science-informed and equitable solution” is needed to protect the whales, which number around 400.

The Associated Press