Sen. Susan Collins blocks NOAA nominee's confirmation to protest new lobstering rules

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May 26—Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has rejected a unanimous consent request to confirm a top federal regulatory official over her concerns about new lobstering restrictions intended to help protect endangered right whales from extinction.

On Wednesday, Collins blocked the Senate confirmation of Jainey Kumar Bavishi, director of the New York City Mayor's Office of Climate Resiliency, to serve as an assistant secretary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Such nominations are usually handled via unanimous consent.

Maine lobstermen have said new requirements imposed May 1 for weak ropes and links, designed to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale, will cause gear loss and injuries.

"NOAA is imposing onerous, possibly impossible, new regulations that do not reflect the reality in the Gulf of Maine with regard to the right whale ... NOAA denied an entirely reasonable request to at least delay the implementation of these onerous new regulations for just two months, until July 1," Collins told the Senate. "The entire delegation plus our governor asked for this delay, this two-month delay, because our lobstermen cannot even find enough of the gear, the new gear that is being mandated by NOAA."

All four members of Maine's congressional delegation and Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, have spoken out against the rules, questioning their necessity and the science behind them.