Earlier this week, I took another positive step in our fight to defend the lobster industry and all of its hard-working men and women.

Maine’s lobster industry is a model of sustainable harvesting practices and management, with generations of Maine lobstermen working hard to protect the sustainability of the fishery.

Our lobstermen helped develop whale protection measures and they have complied with regulations, spending tens of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets — a huge expense — to modify or outright change up their gear to protect right whales.

As a result of those efforts, no right whale death has been attributed to Maine lobster gear, and there has not been a single right whale entanglement attributed to Maine lobster gear in eighteen years.

Despite these uncontroverted facts, the federal government is moving heedlessly ahead with a new round of regulations that will endanger the livelihoods of thousands of hardworking lobstermen who risk their lives to put food on the table, while paying out of their own pockets to protect right whales.

As someone with deep roots in Stonington, where my forebears fished and risked their lives, I know that Maine fishermen are at the heart of our state and they have my deepest gratitude and my fervent support. I’ll fight with everything I have to protect them and their families.

I’ve sued the National Marine Fisheries Service and my administration has been in court fighting tooth and nail for months to prevent this new round of regulations from taking effect.

In fact, with the approval of the Office of Attorney General and $3 million approved by the Legislature in the biennial budget, we’ve hired specialized outside counsel who have extensive experience litigating Endangered Species Act issues related to commercial fishing and they are representing the State of Maine.

Contracting with this expert law firm, with the approval of the Attorney General, puts the State of Maine in the strongest possible position to fight these cases on behalf of lobstermen in Maine.

To further support Maine lobstermen, earlier this week I also announced that I am dedicating $100,000 from my Contingency Fund to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association’s legal defense fund to support their legal efforts as they fight alongside us.

We want to make sure that both the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the State of Maine have the resources we both need to win these lawsuits against the federal government and against the extremists who brought these regulations forward and to support our partnership as we fight these regulations every step of the way.

As Patrice McCarron, the head of the Maine Lobsterman’s Association said, “The partnership between MLA, the state of Maine, and all of our other partners is so critical. The MLA appreciates the state’s leadership and investment in the future of Maine’s lobstering heritage.”

Well, I agree with Patrice and I pledge to always stand by the Maine lobstermen against these wrongheaded Federal rules.

The fishermen who set out from our docks before dawn, who haul traps in all kinds of weather, who feed their families and their neighbors and our state’s economy with their catch — they are at the heart of Maine. We won’t stop fighting until we win for them.

Janet Mills