Court Battles

Supreme Court denies lobster fishers' bid to halt environmental protections

The Supreme Court on Friday denied a request by lobster fishers to halt environmental protections that restrict fishing in a large swath of the Gulf of Maine.

The application, filed earlier this week by a lobster fishers' union and two lobster fishing companies, was rejected without comment by Justice Stephen Breyer, who handles emergency matters arising from the region.

At issue are federal limits that aim to protect the North Atlantic right whale, one of the planet's most endangered species, by restricting the use of lobster traps in nearly 1,000 square miles off Maine for several months of the year. The whales are prone to becoming tangled in nets or colliding with boats.

In their Wednesday filing, the lobstering groups said the restrictions would curtail fishing by more than 100 of the state's "largest and most productive" boats.

Their application to the Supreme Court came after a Boston-based federal appeals court ruled against them last month, handing a win to environmental groups that seek to protect the endangered species.

In its November ruling, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal government has a "congressionally assigned task of assuring the right whales are protected from a critical risk of death."

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