Lobstermen must start removing gear to save whales, feds say

Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The federal government says lobster fishermen off the Maine coast must begin to remove gear from a new protected area intended to help whales.

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

A federal appeals court ruled this week that the ban is enforceable, despite legal challenges from the lobster industry.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that lobster and crab fishermen in the area must now remove their gear and may not set new gear.

The agency said it expects the gear to be removed within two weeks.