Maine Lawmakers Hit Back Against Blows to Lobster Industry
Maine's top lawmakers and representatives met Friday with the media to convey their outrage a what they call an unconscionable blow to Maine's Lobster Industry.
U.S. Sen. Angus King, Gov. Janet Mills and several members of Maine's lobstering community called for the immediate reversal of a designation they say will devastate the livelihood of thousands of Mainers up and down the coast.
The outrage comes at the designation of what King referred to as a "fish zoo", the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch listing of Maine lobster on their seafood “Red List," because they claim lobstering poses a risk to right whales.
This designation has already led some major buyers of Maine lobster to stop purchasing the commodity, with others rumored to be following suit.
A press release put out by the lawmakers says there was scientific evidence that was ignored when Monteray Bay came up with this designation.
"The Maine leaders then lay out three key facts left out of Seafood Watch’s “Red List” assessment:
- There has not been a right whale entanglement with Maine lobster gear since 2004, and right whale deaths or serious injury have never been attributed to Maine lobster gear.
- The majority of right whale deaths since 2017 have been due to vessel strikes in Canada. In fact, 23 of the 30 whales that died between 2017-2019 were found in Canadian waters or were a result of entanglement in Canadian fishing gear.
- The Maine lobstering community has taken many measures, including eliminating all floating rope (the type of rope most likely to entangle whales) and removed more than 30,000 miles of line from the water, facts your report conveniently ignores."
But that "Red List Designation" wasn't the only blow Maine's Lobster Industry sustained this week.
Gov. Mills and lawmakers also blasted a recent ruling against the Maine Lobstermen's Association in U.S. District Court. In the decision, the judge rejected the MLA's attempt to delay new National Marise Fisheries Service rules designed to protect the endangered whales.
Said Maine's Governor,
“Maine lobstermen care about the endangered right whale and have undertaken substantial actions to protect them at great personal expense; but the Federal government’s regulations are simply not based in sound science or proven fact. This federal court decision, so out of touch with reality, adds insult to injury to an industry that supports the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Maine families. We will continue to stand with the Maine lobstermen and confer with the Maine Lobsterman’s Association concerning next steps.”
The Lobstermen who spoke at Friday's press conference expressed a unified want to protect the dwindling right whale population. They sighted the major changes that they have made, out of their own pockets, to ensure they are harvesting lobster sustainably while being responsible stewards of a shared habitat with the whales. They also conveyed that if these rulings and designations aren't reversed, it will decimate Maine's Lobster Industry.
Senator King said that with each day that passes with these decisions in place, more money and jobs will be at risk.