BAR HARBOR — Maine lobstermen are getting some good news about right whales, but not much.
At a workshop session held in the Bar Harbor Municipal Building Tuesday morning, Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) Executive Director Patrice McCarron told a gathering of about 20 fishermen that the population of endangered Northern right whales — only a few years ago calculated to be less than 300 — now numbers 490 animals and that 22 whale calves were born in 2011.
The bad news, though, is that between November 2010 and January of this year, five right whales died and spotters from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reported seeing 39 whales in New England waters entangled in fishing gear. Fourteen of those were first-time sightings.
That means there is little likelihood that fisheries regulators will back off on new regulations aimed at protecting the endangered whales when the federal Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Task Force meets in April.