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Editor's Note and Results of Online Poll on proposed lobstering rules

By Daniel Dunkle | Aug 02, 2019

Rockland — Yesterday I posted an online poll asking:

"Do you support proposed federal rules reducing use of ropes in lobster fishing to protect endangered right whales?"

Last night and this morning I heard from several local lobstermen who felt this question was poorly or unfairly worded. They argued that the way the question is worded makes it sound like these rules absolutely would protect these whales.

There is an ongoing debate, which we have been covering, about whether lobster fishing gear and ropes pose a threat of entanglement to right whales, which are down to about 400 individuals.

Fishermen say the proposed drastic cuts being considered by the NOAA of 50 percent of the ropes from buoys to traps would not help the whales at all. Fishermen say they are not seeing the whales in Penobscot Bay and the case has not been made scientifically that the whales are being killed by lobster gear.

My intention with the question was not to take sides. What I should have written was "rules aimed at protecting whales." In any case, our polls are not scientific samplings.

What I have found is that people like to click on polls and share their comments. People like to have an interactive online story where they can sound off. However, there is an ongoing debate about the journalistic value of these polls in which people can vote multiple times.

In any case, I decided this morning that the question is probably too complicated and too sensitive to deal with in this way, and I was further concerned about adding stresses to our local fishermen, who are already facing bait issues, tough new regulations and other challenges.

So I took the poll down.

In the one evening that it was up, the poll question received 297 responses. Of those who took the poll 91.6 percent (272) were against the proposed rules and 5.7 percent (17) were for them. Another 2.7 percent (8) were undecided.

To those who felt the poll was unfair or biased and done inappropriately, I apologize. My goal here is not to push an agenda, but to facilitate discussion in the community.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Tom Von Malder | Aug 02, 2019 11:58

The photo has kind of bad placement too.

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