Delegation, Gov. Mills Pen Open Letter Urging Retailers, Restaurants To Continue Selling Maine Lobster – Knox County VillageSoup

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch decision to add Maine lobster to its seafood “Red List,” Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Representatives Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree and Governor Janet Mills have released an open report. letter to retailers in an effort to set the record straight.

On behalf of the 4,500 Maine lobstermen and women who will be adversely affected by the “Red List” designation, their letter encourages retailers and restaurants to consider for themselves the evidence that Maine’s lobster industry is not responsible for the decline of North Atlantic right whales and does not pose an existing threat to the fragile population. Maine leaders also highlighted the lobster industry’s history of sustainability and commitment to protecting the endangered right whale.

“The Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program has produced recommendations based on false claims and assumptions that ignore the scientific principles that should underpin any legitimate assessment,” the Maine leaders wrote. “Imposing a ‘red’ designation based on inaccurate and incomplete information seriously undermines the credibility of the report’s recommendation.”

The letter notes that Seafood Watch ignored basic evidence, including:

  • The Maine lobster community has used weak links since 1997 and gear marking since 2002; implemented sunken land lines in 2009; and reduced vertical lines since 2015, with further reductions in 2021;
  • Over the past decade, the industry has removed approximately 30,000 miles of ocean liner;
  • Fisheries data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that of the 10 right whale strandings in U.S. lobster gear that occurred from 1997 to 2017, eight occurred before 2009 and the other two involve Massachusetts arts that were successfully removed;
  • There have been no right whale entanglements with Maine lobster rigs since 2004;
  • Right whale deaths or serious injuries have never been attributed to Maine lobster gear;
  • Most known right whale deaths since 2017 have been attributed to ship strikes in Canada;
  • Of the 30 right whale deaths that occurred between 2017 and 2019, 23 of those whales were found in Canadian waters or died as a result of entanglement with Canadian fishing gear; i
  • Sightings of right whales have declined in the Gulf of Maine over the past decade, which corresponds with the dramatic decline in the whales’ primary food source in the eastern Gulf of Maine.

“Despite spending almost two decades implementing significant and responsible changes to their harvesting practices and equipment to protect the North Atlantic right whale, including extensive new measures by 2022, lobstermen are being told that it’s still not enough,” the Maine leaders continued. .

“Furthermore, Seafood Watch ignores the work that has been done to create a sustainable industry. This discredits its own certification process by misleading retailers and consumers. Maine lobstermen remain committed to conserving the resource they care about deeply and to find solutions that protect both right whales and the industry that the state and its communities depend on. Spreading misinformation about the sustainability of the lobster fishery and issuing recommendations that ignore the facts risks setting back the our shared sustainability goals.

“We urge you to consider these facts as you seek to offer customers seafood options that are not only caught in the US, but also from sustainable fisheries,” they wrote. “The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s recommendations lack credible evidence, but if followed, they will have real-world implications for the thousands of lobstermen and women, their families, and our businesses across Maine.” .

Maine’s congressional delegation and Governor Mills have strongly opposed the undue burdens that have been placed on the state’s lobster fishery without meaningfully protecting whales. Last week, they sent a letter directly to Seafood Watch, urging the organization to immediately reverse the controversial Maine lobster listing and remedy the significant damage they have caused to the flagship industry.

In addition, Mills sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Raimondo, and the Maine delegation sent a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service demanding that Maine’s lobster fishery be treated fairly.