AUGUSTA (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci has signed legislation to give Maine’s coastal fisheries more protection from pesticide drift.

The bill, which was signed into law Friday, creates a buffer zone along the coast in Cumberland, Sagadahoc and York counties. It also prohibits most spraying by air and limits applications to hand-held spray guns.

Rep. Leila Percy’s bill is aimed at managing chemicals used to control the spread of browntail moths. Percy, D-Phippsburg, said lobster fishermen are concerned about the use of chemicals that impede the molting process of marine invertebrates and can kill lobsters.

Percy’s bill calls for further study of the risks and benefits of pesticide applications near coastal waters. The legislation took effect immediately upon Baldacci’s signature, but the law is automatically repealed in March 2007.