King & Mills Tell Group to Reverse Lobster ‘Red List’ Designation ASAP

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An Angry Senator Angus King (I) with Governor Janet T. Mills (D) at a Press Conference This Afternoon on the Portland Waterfront.

Governor Janet T. Mills (D) at the Podium Criticizes the US District Court’s Decision Rejecting a Lawsuit. Initiated by the Maine Lobstermen;s Association, Kennebunk.. (For More Details on Her View on This, Please visit Post Herein dated September 8, 2022.)

“They are trying to shut down the Maine lobster industry,” said an angry Senator Angus King (I) in a rare  public display of emotion this  afternoon on the Portland waterfront.  “What the hell are these people thinking?” King asked.

Joining the Senator in a pushback against the Monterey Bay Aquariums Seafood Watch that has urged the public to avoid Maine lobster because it has endangered North Atlantic right whales, was Governor Janet T. Mills (D) who has been a pro-active advocate for the lobster industry in Maine.

The two Maine leaders called for the California Seafood Watch to immediately remedy the “significant harm they have already caused the iconic industry.” There is no evidence to support the Seafood Watch recommendation King said repeatedly.  If they don’t comply with this, King said he would not speculate what the options might be for that inaction.  Both are Maine attorneys.

King called this recommendation “arrogant and irresponsible.”    He said it was a stab in the back to Maine people and not backed up by evidence.  “It’s based on conjecture,” King said.  Governor Mills said “we are all fed-up with attacks on the Maine lobster industry.  The Maine lobster industry has taken two hits in one week; one from this California based company and the other from the US District Court that rejected the Maine Lobstermen’s Association lawsuit.  “It’s time to come to the table” she said.   “Maine lobstermen have taken unprecedented steps to protect right whales.  King called for journalists to call the “Monterey Fish Zoo” and ask them for their evidence of entanglements in Maine.

Three key points were made during the press conference:

The first is that 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 second point is that the majority of right whale deaths since 2017 have been been due to vesswel 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 last point was that the Maine lobster community has taken many measures, including eliminating all floating rope and removed more than 30,000 miles of line from the water, facts the California based report ignored.

By ignoring these clear facts, Seafood Watch isn’t encouraging safe fishing; instead it is damaging the reputation of its certification process by misleading consumers according to Governor Mills. There’s an easy way to fix this – now – that the California based organization has heard the facts.  “Reverse your decision and take Maine lobster off the ‘Red List.”

Curt Brown, a marine biologist and lobsterman who works at Ready Seafood Co., said that the whales deserve to be protected.   Brown also said that there have been four years of conversations with Seafood Watch.  “Those conversations have fallen on deaf ears.  The future of coastal communities is at stake.”  The issue dates back to the previous Maine governor’s administration.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D) said in a press release:  “Seafood Watch’s recommendation to avoid Maine lobster is misguided, uninformed and reckless.  This decision coincides with NOAA’s new gear regulations, increased bait and fuel cost and a downturn decrease in the wholesale price of lobster, threatening one of Maine’s most prominent and important industries.  This designation does a disservice to the good faith efforts Maine lobstermen and women have repeatedly made to improve their fishing practices..,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.”  Pingree is recovering from her recent diagnosis of COVID-19 and did not attend the press conference.

“As long as I am governor, I will do everything I can to support Maine lobstermen in this challenge,” said Governor Mills.

No-show Senator Susan Collins (R) did not attend the press conference on the Portland waterfront.

2 thoughts on “King & Mills Tell Group to Reverse Lobster ‘Red List’ Designation ASAP

  1. It’s alarming that a west coast environmental group can issue a statement that can have such a misguided impact on the economic lifeblood of a state 3000 miles away!

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