Maine Lobster Listed as Seafood To ‘Avoid,’ Leaving Restaurateurs Fuming

by Megan Molseed

The claws are coming out in Maine after one environmental group put the New England state’s favored food, lobster, on a list of seafood to “avoid.” The Maine lobsters made this list along with other seafood because of concerns that harvesting the ocean animals could be putting whales in danger.

Maine Residents Feel New “Seafood To Avoid” List Can Go To “Shell”

The well-known Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute released an environment-focused seafood watch program recently. And, on this list is the popular crustacean. A move that has left Maine officials almost as hot with anger as the butter that comes with the tasty dish. The move comes as the group aims to avoid certain types of seafood harvesting which could put whale populations in danger.

“This is an outrageous act,” notes one US Senator, Maine’s Angus King.

“With very real-world consequences,” the senator adds. “And no real scientific evidence.”

Maine Officials Say The Decision Lacks “Common Sense”

King adds that this move is an “infuriating” one. Noting that placing Maine lobster on the seafood to “avoid” list is “simply absurd.” Additionally, King says, the list “flies in the face of common sense.”

The issue at hand claims that the seafood fishing equipment further endangers an already endangered whale species, the right whale. Consequently, the seafood fishing equipment often catches these whales, Aquarium officials say.

“The Maine lobster industry — one of our state’s most important economic drivers and a source of pride — has long been committed to environmentally conscious, sustainable fishing,” King adds in a recent statement.

“There hasn’t been a whale entanglement attributed to Maine lobster gear since 2004,” the senator says.

“And no documented right whale death has ever been attributed to Maine lobster gear,” he adds. “I hope the millions around the world who enjoy the delicious crustacean will see through this farce.”

New England Residents Feel Environmental Group Is Lumping Main Lobster Fishing With A Different Type Of Seafood Fishing

One New England restaurant owner notes that placing Maine lobster among seafood to “avoid” is a poorly researched decision. Consequently, this results in the Maine lobster’s appearance on the list.

“It isn’t well-researched,” notes Fred Terry, a co-owner at the Lobster Roll in Southampton.

“There isn’t a lobster trap in Maine that a right whale couldn’t break the line of,” Terry explains. Additionally, Terry says, the whales can “go right through.”

“They’re lumping Maine lobster in with snow crab and king crab fishing,” continues Terry who also serves as a director of the New York State Restaurant Association.

“The domestic lobster market is probably the most regulated in the county,” he adds.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Ranks US And Canadian Fisheries

The Monterey Bay Aquarium creates the list in question using what they call a scientific assessment of fishery practices in the US and Canada. The list includes “best choice” seafood options in addition to the ones to “avoid.”

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list ranks the fisheries based on a variety of concerns. These include the environmental impact of the fishery, the working conditions, and the economic benefits born from the supply chain.