Click on HERE to listen to Senator Collins’ remarks.
Click on HERE to read Senator Collins’ remarks.
washington d.c.—In continuation of her advocacy on behalf of the Maine lobster industry that has been unfairly targeted by NOAA’s onerous right whale rule, U.S. Senator Susan Collins has rejected a request for unanimous consent to uphold a high NOAA official. Senator Collins’ decision to bar Jainey Kumar Bavishi from serving as assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere comes in response to the agency’s refusal to change its plan to reduce catches of large Atlantic whales ( ALWTRP) that has harmed lobsters and women in Maine. The action aims to pressure NOAA to be more responsive to Maine’s lobster industry and pay more attention to the agency’s own data showing that Maine’s fishery has never been linked to the death of a right whale. Senator Collins also pointed to the troubling fact that NOAA’s actions contradict recommendations from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.
An excerpt of remarks by Senator Collins from the Senate floor is below. Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ full remarks.
“NOAA is imposing onerous, if not impossible, new regulations that do not reflect the reality in the Gulf of Maine with respect to right whales…NOAA has denied a perfectly reasonable request to at least delay the implementation of these onerous new regulations for only two months. , until July 1. The whole delegation plus our governor asked for this delay, this two month delay, because our lobsters can’t even find enough equipment, the new equipment that’s mandated by NOAA. A simple two-month delay would have saved these small business owners huge losses. It’s truly outrageous, and the industry stands to lose $7 million in lost fishing time in those two months..
“Declining this two-month extension contradicted the recommendations of the Advocacy Office of the United States Small Business Administration, an independent small business voice within the federal government. The Office of Advocacy asserted that NOAA was putting lobsters and women in “an impossible scenario”, and went on to say, “if they are not given a short notice of the compliance deadline, they risk losing significant sums of income or in some cases their entire business.
“We’ve had countless meetings with the Department of Commerce, with NOAA. I met the [NOAA Administrator]. I asked for his help. He promised to work with us. Instead, things only got worse. And now our lobster industry fears that NOAA will continue to wind down their livelihoods while ignoring not only their expertise on the water, the expertise of the State of Maine, but also the unbiased advice of the advocate for small federal government companies..
“The entire agency, all of NOAA, must recognize that the practice of implementing management decisions based on incomplete, imprecise, and inaccurate data, particularly when those decisions have a detrimental effect on a fishery known to its conservation methods and on the communities that this long-supported fishery in the State of Maine, cannot continue. So that is the situation we find ourselves in, and that is why—I believe this is the first time in all the years that I have served in the Senate—I rise to object when the request for consent unanimous is made.
The Maine delegation and Governor Mills strongly opposed excessive loadings that would threaten the lobster fishery without meaningfully protecting the whales. Following the release of the final rule in late August 2021, the Maine delegation and Governor Mills issued a statement opposing the rule and highlighting Maine’s lobster fishery’s record of significant improvements to several times of their practices and modifications to their gear to protect right whales. . In October 2021, they wrote to Secretary Raimondo urging him to rescind the rule, and in February 2022 called for a postponement of the rule due to difficulties lobsters faced in obtaining necessary equipment.