Maine Governor Calls on Seafood Watch

Posted on September 9, 2022Comments Off on Maine Governor Calls on Seafood Watch

Maine Congressional Delegation and Governor Mills Call on Seafood Watch to Immediately Reverse Lobster Red List Designation or Provide Evidence to Back Claims

The Maine leaders lay out clear facts that rebut Seafood Watch’s irresponsible decision which relies on “guilty until proven innocent” reasoning

Portland, MAINE (STL.News)  Senator Angus King, Governor Janet Mills, Senator Susan Collins, and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden are calling on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to immediately reverse the controversial listing of Maine lobster on their seafood “Red List” and to remedy the significant harm they have already caused the iconic industry.  In a letter to the Aquarium’s board led by Senator King, 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.

“The recent decision by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to “Red List” Maine lobster with scant evidence of impacts on right whales is a reckless piece of activism that will inflict substantial negative real-world consequences on an important and iconic industry in Maine,” write the Maine Congressional Delegation and Governor Mills.  “In a courtroom, we require evidence before convicting someone of a crime;  but you are seeking to sentence Maine’s lobstermen with conjecture, assumptions, and guesswork instead of hard facts.  If anything, the publicly available facts rebut this aggressive action that will impact the livelihoods of thousands of people in Maine, and make it clear that you should immediately reverse the irresponsible designation.”

The Maine leaders then lay out three key facts left out of Seafood Watch’s “Red List” assessment:

  1. There has not been a right whale entanglement with Maine lobster gear since 2004, and right whale deaths or serious injury have never been attributed to Maine lobster gear.
  2. The majority of right whale deaths since 2017 have been due to vessel strikes in Canada.  In fact, 23 of the 30 whales that died between 2017-2019 were found in Canadian waters or were a result of entanglement in Canadian fishing gear.
  3. The Maine lobstering community has taken many measures, including eliminating all floating rope (the type of rope most likely to entangle whales) and removed more than 30,000 miles of line from the water, facts your report conveniently ignores.

“By ignoring these clear facts, Seafood Watch isn’t encouraging safe fishing; instead, you are damaging the reputation of your certification process by misleading consumers.  There’s an easy way to fix this – now that you’ve seen the facts, reverse your decision and take lobster off the ‘Red List,’” continued the Maine leaders.

If the decision is not reversed, the leaders call for answers on five key questions:

  1. How does harming an already challenged lobstering community with little to no evidence of right whale entanglements promote the safety of right whales?
  2. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch listed Maine Lobster as a “Good Alternative” in 2014.  Since then, the Maine Lobster fishery has implemented even more changes to protect right whales.  Why does the new report fail to take these actions into consideration?
  3. Claiming that any fishery with rope in the water as an equal threat to right whales undermines efforts by Maine lobstermen to make gear safer, as well as Seafood Watch’s purpose to distinguish between fisheries working to improve sustainability measures and those that aren’t.  Why does Seafood Watch use a blanket assessment rather than putting in the effort to be specific and accurate?
  4. In presenting its pseudoscientific claims, why did Seafood Watch omit objective facts that would present a more comprehensive view of the reality?
  5. What steps is Seafood Watch prepared to take to remedy the significant harm they have already inflicted on the Maine lobster industry?

“In any fair system of justice or public proceeding, it’s required to provide evidence of wrongdoing before a verdict can be rendered – innocent until proven guilty.  The process you have undertaken turns this principle on its head.  How would you like to be the defendant in a process where the standard is guilty until proven innocent?” the Maine leaders conclude. “You have appointed yourself Judge, Jury, and Executioner of the Maine lobster industry – ignoring clear facts, and not meeting even the most basic burden of proof before coming to a conclusion.”

You can read the full letter HERE (PDF) and below.

Read more news related to Maine:

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  3. Maine Veterans’ Home Board of Trustees’ Voted

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