Public campaign grows as Maine lobster sector appeals court ruling on gear restrictions

Published on
September 20, 2022
A graphic urging consumers to help save the Maine lobster industry.

The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) is urging consumers to support the lobster fishery in the U.S. state of Maine on National Lobster Day and beyond after Seafood Watch downgraded the fishery to “red/avoid”.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch’s lower rating of North American lobster and Canadian snow crab was primarily due to potential impacts the fisheries could be having on North Atlantic right whales.

However, the Maine lobster fishery is “one of the most-sustainable fisheries in the world, thanks to the hard work by generations of lobstermen to protect both the lobster resource as well as Maine marine environment for more than 150 years,” MLMC said in a press release. “This includes decades of proactive changes to protect endangered right whales, including weakening lines, removing thousands of miles of rope from the water, and converting all 'floating' rope to safer 'sinking' rope.'"

The MLMC is urging the public to get involved, asking supporters to sign the “Save the Maine Lobster Industry” petition on Change.org to “show seafood buyers you value Maine lobstermen and their commitment to sustainable fishing.” The petition currently has more than 16,500 supporters.

“Maine lobster is a critical economic driver bolstering local communities who rely on the fishery. Help us reach the MBA to show your objection to their decision,” MLMC said. “The livelihoods of lobstermen, their families and coastal communities, all of whom support sustainable lobstering, depend on community support.”

The MLMC is also urging consumer to support National Lobster Day, celebrated in the United States on 25 September. Consumers can either eat at restaurants that are participating in Maine Lobster Week, running from 19 to 25 September, or buy more Maine lobster either locally or using LobsterFromMaine.com to find a directory of “trusted suppliers of sustainable Maine Lobster available to be shipped fresh or frozen directly to your doorstep, anywhere in the U.S.”

The push comes at the same time as the lobster industry and the state of Maine both filed a motion appealing a recent federal court decision that rejected an effort by the Maine lobster industry to delay new restrictions aimed at protecting right whales. U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington, D.C., ruled against the state and lobstermen, finding that the NMFS “reasonably explained how it estimated the right whale population.”

Blasberg previously ruled that new lobster fishing restrictions designed to protect right whales didn’t go far enough.

Maine Governor Janet Mills, in a statement, called for the industry to continue to fight against the regulations.

“My administration continues to stand with the Maine Lobstermen’s Association in fighting this wrong and out-of-touch court decision that jeopardizes the livelihoods of thousands of Maine families,” Mills said. “We will continue to fight to see that the Federal government uses sound science and proven facts – most notably that Maine lobster gear has never been responsible for the death of a right whale and that lobstermen have undertaken substantial measures, at great personal expense, to protect them.”  

Image courtesy of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative

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