I am 73 years-old and hold a non-commercial (NC) lobster license. My 14-foot aluminum boat has no on-board electronics and is powered by a small outboard motor. Oars (and my own strength) are its backup.

NC licensees are limited to five traps, and the lobsters caught cannot be sold. NC licenses are sometimes called, “recreational,” however, lobstering is more than a pastime for me: from late June through October, my catch provides as many as three meals per week for my family.

My traps are set in the St. George River, up from Port Clyde. We have never seen baleen whales in our area. Even still, my trap lines are fitted with (required) breakaways and are painted with purple stripes, should a right whale mosey up the St. George River.

Today, traps cost roughly $100 each; that is to say, I have $500 invested my gear – that’s nothing. A commercial lobsterman, however, fishing the 800-trap limit will have invested $80,000.

To save the whales, I have seen that the ropeless traps proposed cost $4000 apiece and they require special on-board electronics. Instead of $500, my traps would cost $20,000, an untenable price for me. But for the commercial lobsterman with 800 traps, the cost would be $3.2 million dollars! Perhaps someone will come up with less costly technology, but for now it seems that someone wants to put lobstermen out of business.

The population of right whales has diminished not because of lobstermen, but because of centuries of commercial whaling. Maine’s lobstermen have been conscientious about managing their fishery. Now their livelihood is threatened because of other nations’ excesses and inferences made from data that have questionable validity.

If the regulations go into effect, the industry will change for the worse: Commercial lobstering as we know it and the families that depend on it will fail. Our fleet will disappear, as will the local businesses, artists, and others who depend on it. Lobster, as a reasonably priced commodity in coastal Maine, will no longer exist. Only well-capitalized, large-scale commercial enterprises will constitute the lobster fishery. Scenic harbors like Port Clyde will be populated not by lobster boats and draggers but sailing yachts and other pleasure-craft.

Stan Fox

St. George