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Pingree: Seafood Watch Recommendation ‘Misguided, Uninformed, and Reckless’

  • Lobster Stock _ Acadia CODEL

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) is condemning the updated designation by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program that adds American lobster to its “red list” of seafood to avoid. 

“Seafood Watch’s recommendation to ‘avoid’ Maine lobster is misguided, uninformed, and reckless. This decision coincides with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new gear regulations, increased bait and fuel costs, and a dramatic 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 to protect right whales. These efforts to reduce potential entanglements by our lobster fishery come with the fact that no documented right whale death has been attributed to Maine lobster gear. I agree that we must protect the fragile right whale population, but we must do so with accurate science and informed decision-making,” Pingree said. “I’m committed to working with our partners in the lobster industry to support this vital part of Maine’s economy and heritage and we are actively discussing next steps in the wake of this potentially devastating decision.”

Pingree, her fellow members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation, and Governor Mills have been steadfastly opposed to undue burdens that would threaten the lobster fishery without meaningfully protecting whales. In a letter to the Aquarium’s board on Thursday, the Maine leaders highlight the significant factual omissions of Seafood Watch’s lobster report, criticize the organization for holding the Maine lobster industry to an impossible “guilty until proven innocent” standard, and call for answers on several key questions. In February, they wrote to the Aquarium voicing their strong opposition to adding Maine lobster to its “avoid” list. 

Following the release of NOAA’s final rule in late August 2021, the Maine Delegation and Governor Mills issued a statement in opposition to the rule and highlight the Maine lobster fishery’s record of repeatedly making significant improvements to their practices and modifications to their gear to protect right whales.  In October 2021, they wrote to Secretary Raimondo to urge her to rescind the flawed rule, and in February 2022 called for a postponement of the rule due to difficulties lobstermen and women were having obtaining the necessary gear. 

Pingree and Golden secured $14 million to help support Maine lobstermen in the House Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations bill, and last year, Golden and Pingree worked with Maine’s senators to include $17 million in similar funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 CJS appropriations bill.

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