Maine Lobster Fishery Sues Monterey Bay Aquarium; Please Donate if you Can to the Lawsuit Fund


Please Donate to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association to Assist in the Defense Against the Aquarium’s “Red Listing” of Maine Lobsters; Lawsuits are Expensive!

Please Donte to the Maine Locbstermen’s Defense Fund if you Can; Litigation is Expensive!

Maine lobster businesses and industry trade associations today filed a federal lawsuit against the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation (the “Aquarium”) for making false and defamatory statements about Maine lobster fishing practices and for misleading consumers and commercial lobster buyers about the integrity of the Maine lobster harvest according to a press release received today from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.  The lawsuit challenges the Aquariums’ claims that “scientific data” show that Maine lobster fishery practices are responsible for harming North Atlantic right whales.  The lawsuit asserts that the Aquarium’s claims are in fact not supported by science and that the Aquarium’s false statements have caused substantial economic harm to plaintiffs, as well as to the Maine lobster board and to Maine’s long-standing reputation for a pristine coastal environment protected by a multi-generational tradition of preserving resources for the future.

Plaintiffs include:  Bean Maine Lobster, Inc; the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA); the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association; Atwood Lobster, LLC and the Bug Catcher, Inc., owned by the sixth-generation fisherman Gerry Cushman, of Portland Clyde.

The lawsuit filed on March 13 in the US District Court for the District of Maine, alleges that Monterey Bay Aquarium knowingly ignored and mischaracterized scientific data to convinece the public that despite their sustainable practices, Maine lobstermen are causing harm to endangered North Atlantic right whales.  In September of 2022, the Aquarium announced that its “Seafood Watch” program was downgrading the rating of Maine-caught lobster from “yellow” to “red” and instructing consumers and businesses to avoid Maine lobsters because “scientific data” supposedly linked Maine lobster fishery practices to right whale deaths and injuries.  While promoting the Aquarium’s new “red” rating for Maine lobster, Aquarium officials stated that consumers “appetitite for seafood is driving a species to extinction”

As the lawsuit alleges, since Maine lobster was rated “yellow” by the Aquarium years earlier, there had been no “scientific data” linking Maine lobster fishery to any harm to the right whales.  Federal data show that there are no documented right whale deaths atributed to Maine lobster gear and there has not been a recorded right whale entanglement in Maine lobster gear in nearly twenty years.  This is due in large part to a shift of right whales further away from the Maine lobster fishery and to the extensive conservation measures Maine lobstermen have adopted – some of which were put in place years after the Aquarium had issued its “yellow” rating.  Those conservation measures include removing 30,000 miles of rope from the ocean and weakening the rope that remains to allow an animal to easily free idtself in the untimely event it encounters the gear.  Rather than creating a threat to the whales, these measures have made the Maine lobster industry a model for what a sustainable and environmentally responsible fishery can do.

“Lobstermen have been under constant assault for the past seberal years.  Yet the science is clear – right whales are not dying in Maine lobster gear,” said Patrice McCarron, Policy Director for the MLA.  “In fact, the opposite is true, innovations by Maine lobstermen have been instrumental in minimizing harm to whales.”

Plaintiff Gerry Cushman said:  “I am a sixth-generation lobsterman.  I work hard to support my family and depend on a healthy ocean for my livelihood.  Like my fellow lobstermen, I will continue to do all I can to protect the ocean and its wildlife jut as my forefathers have done.  Our stewardship practice is a tradition that defines what Maine is all about.  The barrage of  lies about Maine fishing practices must be confronted and defeated by the truth.”

The complaint in the lawsuit demands monetary relief and an injunction ordering the Aquarium to remove and retract all its defamatory statements.