PORTLAND (WGME)-- Frustration and anger from Maine lobstermen and elected leaders is being directed at federal regulators.
It happened at the only in-person meeting with federal officials about proposed rules to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale.
More than 500 people packed into a USM auditorium as they hoped to tell NOAA exactly how they feel about these rules.
"This is about wiping us off the map," said one person early into the public comment section of the meeting.
Maine lobstermen laid into federal officials during the three-hour event. They say they've long bent over backward to follow the rules.
"And although they have complied and spent thousands of dollars it still isn't enough. You are the ones who put on those regulations," said April Chadbourne with CBS Lobster in Portland.
This meeting was meant to get public comment about modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan.
"We're here because endangered North Atlantic right whale's population is experiencing an unsustainable level of mortality," said Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Branch Chief Colleen Coogan.
The plan effectively sets a wide range of restrictions to reduce whale injuries and deaths.
Because of a federal judge’s ruling, the plan is being fast-tracked years ahead of schedule.
"This is going to lead to the end of what my family has worked so hard before me to protect," said Matt Davis, who works in the industry.
Maine lobstermen have long argued they are not causing the whale's decline.
NOAA officials admitted during the meeting that it's hard to find the source of entanglements when there is gear to investigate.
"It doesn't often have marks that can identify it to county frequently, much less and to an exact site or fisherman," Coogan said.
Maine's congressional delegation and governor have been fighting these rules, but they took it a step further Wednesday night.
"I'm prepared to put in legislation to change the Marine Mammal Protection Act. I'm prepared to do it for the Endangered Species Act. It's just too broken," said Rep. Jared Golden, to a round of applause from the crowd.
"Honestly we're looking at all paths to make sure that there are no stricter rules on our fishermen," said Rep. Chellie Pingree, in an interview with CBS13 before the meeting.
Representative Pingree and Senator Susan Collins are hopeful NOAA will listen to Mainers about the ripple effect this will have on the state.
"In my time in Washington representing Maine, I cannot think of another case where the regulatory burden poses such a threat to an iconic part of Maine's economy," said Sen. Collins.
"I promise that we're listening," said Janet Coit, assistant administrator for fisheries.
If you missed the chance to come in person, you can submit comments online here through Oct. 11.