May 27, 2022

Moulton Introduces the Conserving Lobstering and Whales (CLAW) Act of 2022

Legislation would help lobsterman offset costs of environmentally-friendly equipment

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Seth Moulton announced the Conserving Lobstering and Whales (CLAW) Act of 2022, which would help sustain lobster fisheries by providing tax credits to lobstermen to offset the financial costs of newly-required adaptive fishing gear. 

Due to climate change, warmer waters are forcing North Atlantic Right Whales into different migration patterns. Entanglement of the critically-endangered whales in lobstering lines is becoming an increasingly serious problem, especially off the North Shore of Massachusetts. 

As a result, lobstermen must now adhere to a number of measures to help preserve Right Whale populations. New regulations include: reduction of the number of rope lines that link buoys to lobster traps, use of weaker ropes so whales can more easily break free if they do become entangled, and expansion of the areas of the ocean where fishing with trap rope is prohibited or limited.

“Lobstermen are in a tough spot right now. Climate change is affecting where lobsters are moving and new regulations mean they also must spend money on adaptive gear that is less harmful to marine mammals like Right Whales,” Congressman Moulton said. “Protecting an endangered species and maintaining local jobs do not have to be mutually exclusive. A sustainable blue economy can do both. The CLAW Act would be a win-win for lobstermen and Right Whales.”

The CLAW Act would:

  • Establish a 30% refundable tax credit for commercial lobstermen for the purchase of “adaptive gear”
  • Mitigate costs of adaptive gear. Tax credit may be applied to both the weak rope and line inserts lobstermen must use now as well as the vessel tracking systems they will be required to use next year
  • Ensure tax credit evolves with policy. Should NOAA update the take reduction plan and require other adaptive gear, it would also be covered by the tax credit.  

Reps. Lori Trahan and Bill Keating are co-sponsors of the CLAW Act. 

Earlier this year, Congressman Moulton introduced the Right Whale Coexistence Act of 2022, which would establish a new grant program to fund collaborative research projects between government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and maritime industries to develop innovative technologies to reduce human impacts on North Atlantic Right Whales.  

Full bill text can be found HERE.