Maine lobstermen and women aren’t stupid, though it seems Gov. Janet Mills thinks they are.
The governor was recently heckled by members of the lobster industry at a meeting with federal regulators concerning new rules adopted by the federal Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that would close vast swaths of Maine waters for lobstering during one of the most crucial periods of the year.
Accordingly, the governor says she supports efforts to block federal funding to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, an organization which recently “red listed” Maine’s lobster industry for the supposed harm it poses to the endangered right whale. She also wants to expedite the Department of Marine Resources’ appeal of a recent court decision that further jeopardizes Maine lobster.
Every chance she gets to issue a public statement in support of Maine’s lobster industry, she pounces on it. But clearly the industry as a whole isn’t buying into the façade.
Mills likes to play tough on the regulations set to decimate Maine’s lobster industry, but behind the scenes, she and her party are allied with the same groups working to get the rules in place.
Further, many of these groups also support the development of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine, which would further disrupt the industry beyond the new burdensome regulations.
Groups like Maine Conservation Voters have endorsed Mills and are spending money to help get her elected. At the same time, they champion efforts to expand offshore wind that would only serve to cause further harm to lobstering in Maine.
The governor can’t have it both ways. Either you support the industry and its valuable contributions to Maine’s economy, or you are merely paying lip service to it during election season. The industry knows the governor is being propped up by many of the same groups that want to upend their livelihoods.
Whether it’s the lobster industry, offshore wind or the Shawmut Dam controversy, the governor’s public statements don’t jive with what’s happening behind the scenes. Surely these groups wouldn’t campaign for her so earnestly if they didn’t view it beneficial to their agendas in seeing her elected.
It’s easy to talk the talk. It’s much more difficult to walk the walk. Unfortunately for her, she’s not fooling anyone–certainly not Maine lobstermen–with convenient affection for the industry only when it serves her political future.