US House and Senate lawmakers from Maine are blasting the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch for red-listing lobsters caught off that state’s shores.
According to Seafood Watch’s latest assessment:
“Seafood Watch recommends to Avoid American lobster caught by trap from the Southern New England stock due to population depletion, risks to the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, and insufficient measures for reducing these risks.
“Seafood Watch recommends to Avoid American lobster caught by trap from Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine stocks due to risks to the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale and insufficient measures for reducing these risks.”
In a joint statement, the lawmakers — Rep. Jared Golden and Sen. Angus King — called the assessment an “unsubstantiated and speculative decision,” and said they would introduce legislation that would prohibit federal funds from going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“Institutions like Monterey Bay Aquarium that claim to be scientific but openly flout available evidence and data should not receive taxpayer funds. It’s that simple. This organization’s red list designation of American lobster could have a serious impact on the livelihoods of thousands of hard-working lobstermen, and I believe Congress must do something about it. There has never been a serious injury or death of the endangered North Atlantic right whale attributed to the Maine lobster fishery and to make recommendations or regulations in spite of that fact is a slap in the face to lobstermen and their families.”
While King added:
“The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s ‘Red Listing’ of Maine lobster is a baseless attack on a proud, sustainable fishery and a clear attempt to put thousands of Maine people out of work. By refusing to provide any evidence supporting their harmful decision and ignoring facts that undercut their conclusion, the Aquarium has made it clear that they are not a serious scientific organization, and certainly not one that deserves taxpayer funding. The Red Listing Monterey Bay Aquarium Act would ensure that Maine people’s hard-earned tax dollars aren’t funding the Aquarium’s pseudoscientific assault on our lobstering communities. It sends a clear message that we will not stand for this outrageous approach to scientific research.”
The lawmakers also said:
“There hasn’t been a whale entanglement attributed to Maine lobster gear since 2004 and no documented right whale death has ever been attributed to Maine lobster gear. The majority of right whale deaths since 2017 have been due to vessel strikes in Canada, and of the 33 right whale mortalities occurring between 2017 and 2020, 24 of those whales were confirmed to be attributed to entanglements in Canadian fishing gear and vessel strikes in Canadian waters.”
For more info on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s assessment process for the American Lobster, go to montereybayaquarium.org.