A London-based international non-profit has suspended its “sustainability” certification for the Maine lobstering industry over concerns about whales getting tangled up in fishing gear.
The Marine Stewardship Council’s decertification of the Maine lobster is yet another escalation of the regulatory battle Maine lobstermen have been fighting all year long, as the federal government seeks to impose harsh new regulations on the industry and left-wing non-profits level accusations over threats to whales.
House Minority Leader Rep. Bill Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), a lobsterman, said MSC’s decision was an act of left-wing environmentalism that has no basis in science.
“The decision by the Marine Stewardship Council to decertify the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery is appalling,” said Faulkingham.
“The Maine Lobster Industry is a planetary example of how a sustainable, self regulated, conservation-minded, wild caught fishery is supposed to operate,” he said.
“There has never been a North Atlantic Right Whale death linked to the Maine fishery,” he said. “This act of environmental extremism is anti-science, and is attempting to solve a non-existent problem at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of thousands of hard working people and the families they support.”
This act of environmental extremism is anti-science, and is attempting to solve a non-existent problem at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of thousands of hard working people and the families they support.”
MSC’s decision is the second time this year a far left environmentalist outfit has used its position as a supposed authority on matters of marine science to assail the Maine lobstering industry.
Earlier this year, Seafood Watch, an activist arm of California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium, added the Maine lobster to its “Red List” of non-sustainable seafood.
Many retailers who are unfamiliar with the practices of Maine’s lobsterman or the actual data on whale entanglement in the Gulf of Maine rely on groups like MSC and Seafood Watch to ensure that their product offerings are sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Bad publicity like this can reduce demand for the Maine lobster, lower prices, and hurt lobstermen in the wallet. But the greater threat to the industry is the ongoing legal battle with NOAA over the stringent new rules federal bureaucrats want to impose on fishermen.
Regulators and activists both maintain their actions are motivated by protecting endangered species of whales. The federal bureaucrats pushing the new rules say the stronger regulations would reduce whale fatalities that result from fishing gear in the Gulf of Maine.
So how many whales are dying because of the lack of stronger regulation?
The 2019 Atlantic Large Whale Entanglement Report, prepared by NOAA’s National Maine Fisheries Services out of Gloucester, there were 30 whale entanglements in Atlantic fishing waters that year: five resulted in whales dying, including one right whale, two humpbacks and two minkes.
None of those deaths have been linked to Maine lobstering, according to NOAA’s data. Advocacy groups representing Maine’s lobstering industry contend that Maine lobstering gear hasn’t caused a whale death in two decades.
Maine’s Congressional Delegation, along with Gov. Janet Mills, issued a harsh statement rebuking MSC after the decertification was announced.
“Today’s decision by the Marine Stewardship Council to temporarily suspend certification of Maine’s lobster fishery is the result of a years-long campaign from misguided environmentalist groups who seem to be hellbent on putting a proud, sustainable industry out of business without regard to the consequences of their actions,” the statement said.
“We are deeply disappointed by this action, and hope that the MSC will reconsider the decision as litigation is ongoing in the matter,” it said.