Delegation, Governor Mills Writes Open Letter Urging Retailers and Restaurants to Continue Selling Maine Lobster – Knox County VillageSoup
WASHINGTON, DC — Following the decision by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to include Maine lobster on its seafood “red list,” the senses. Susan Collins and Angus King, Representatives Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree, and Governor Janet Mills issued an open letter to retailers in an attempt to set the record straight.
On behalf of the 4,500 Maine anglers and lobster harvesters who will be impacted by Red List designation, their letter encourages retailers and restaurants to consider for themselves evidence that Maine’s lobster industry is not responsible. of 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 its commitment to protecting the endangered right whale.
“The Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program has produced recommendations based on claims and false assumptions that ignore the scientific principles that should underlie 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 points out that Seafood Watch ignored basic evidence, such as:
- The Maine lobster fishing community has used weak links since 1997 and gear marking since 2002; set up dip lines in 2009; and vertical lines reduced since 2015, with further reductions in 2021;
- Over the past decade, the industry has removed approximately 30,000 miles of line from the ocean;
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s own fisheries data shows that of the 10 right whale entanglements in U.S. lobster gear that occurred from 1997 to 2017, eight occurred before 2009 and the other two involved Massachusetts gear that have been successfully removed;
- There have been no known right whale entanglements with Maine lobster gear since 2004;
- Right whale deaths or serious injuries have never been attributed to Maine lobster gear;
- The majority of known right whale deaths since 2017 have been attributed to vessel strikes in Canada;
- Of the 30 right whale mortalities that occurred between 2017 and 2019, 23 of these whales were found in Canadian waters or were killed as a result of entanglement in Canadian fishing gear; and
- Right whale sightings have declined in the Gulf of Maine over the past decade, matching the dramatic decline of the whales’ primary food source in the eastern Gulf of Maine.
“Despite spending nearly two decades implementing significant and responsible changes to their fishing practices and gear to protect North Atlantic right whales, including significant new measures in 2022, fishers lobster shells are being told it’s still not enough,” the Maine executives continued. .
“Furthermore, Seafood Watch ignores the work that has been done to create a sustainable industry. This damages the reputation of its own certification process by misleading retailers and consumers. Maine lobster fishermen remain committed to conserving the resource they care deeply about and finding solutions that protect both right whales and the industry the state and their communities rely on. The dissemination of false information on the sustainability of the lobster fishery and the issuance of recommendations that ignore the facts risk setting back our common objectives of sustainability.
“We urge you to consider these facts when looking to provide customers with seafood options that are not only fished in the United States, but also sustainably harvested,” they wrote. “The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s recommendations lack credible evidence, but if followed, they will have real implications for the thousands of hardworking lobsters and women, their families, and our businesses across Maine.”
Maine’s congressional delegation and Governor Mills have strongly opposed the excessive burdens that have been placed on the state’s lobster fishery without meaningfully protecting the whales. Last week, they sent a letter directly to Seafood Watch, urging the organization to immediately rescind the controversial Maine lobster list and undo the extensive damage they have caused to the iconic industry.
Additionally, Mills sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and the Maine delegation sent a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service demanding that Maine’s lobster fishery be treated fairly.
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