PORTLAND — Maine’s top fisheries official on Tuesday rejected claims by the controversial animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that a Maine lobster processing facility has engaged in cruel mutilation of crustaceans.

Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, called PETA’s claim “nothing more than another disingenuous attempt to advance their agenda and negatively impact Maine’s most important coastal industry and the economy it supports,” according to a statement.

Keliher said he consulted with his department’s lead biologist and concluded, “What is shown in the video is compliant with state and federal laws and regulations, including Maine’s animal-welfare statute.”

The pushback comes after PETA released an undercover video Tuesday that it claims was shot earlier this year at Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster in Rockland. Bean is the granddaughter of the founder of Maine retailer L.L. Bean and a major player in the state’s lobster industry. Dan Paden, an evidence analysis manager with PETA, held a news conference Tuesday in Portland during which he screened the four-minute video. The footage shows, among other things, live lobsters being ripped apart by hand.

The Portland Press Herald has not posted the video on its website because it could not independently verify where the video was filmed. The video is posted on PETA’s website.

Attorney Stephen Hayes, who represents Linda Bean, said he could not comment on the video because nothing identifies where it was shot. Hayes said the company would “object to publication of any video that depicts any of our employees or our facilities, as that violates their and our right to privacy.”

Although no state or federal laws govern how a lobster should be killed during commercial processing, Paden said he would meet with the Knox County District Attorney’s Office and the Rockland Police Department to ask for an investigation of Bean under Maine’s animal cruelty statute.

Although no state or federal laws govern how a lobster should be killed during commercial processing, Paden said he would meet with the Knox County District Attorney’s Office and the Rockland Police Department to ask for an investigation of Bean under Maine’s animal cruelty statute.

Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, also disputed PETA’s claims, calling the organization an “extremist group” that should refrain from “casting its judgment on an industry it knows nothing about.” McCarron said she has not seen the video. She said that, although her organization does not represent processors, she was troubled by PETA’s characterization of lobster processing.

“You can’t humanize a lobster,” she said. “They are food.”

Maine has 14 lobster processors licensed through the Department of Marine Resources that process 10 million to 12 million pounds of lobster annually, representing only about 10 percent of all lobsters caught. Nearly 70 percent is processed in Canada, which has more facilities.

Several Maine processors declined to discuss their methods. In some cases, employees who answered the phone said they were not authorized to talk about operations, while other facilities did not return messages.

John Norton, president of Cozy Harbor Seafood in Portland, declined to discuss his processing methods in detail but said his company processes lobsters differently from the method shown in the video.

“Our lobsters are dispatched before any limbs are removed,” he said, but did not elaborate. However, he said he would not disparage the method in the video, which he viewed. “I can’t tell you a specific industry standard, because it’s highly competitive, so I can’t say what others do,” he said. He added that he was not impressed by the video, saying he believed PETA was using it to solicit donations and if the group were trying to change the industry, they would have approached lawmakers instead.

Kyle Murdock, owner of Sea Hag Seafood in Tenants Harbor, declined to discuss company practices, saying he didn’t want negative publicity. The processors do not have an industry group that represents them.

The Maine Lobster Council, whose role is to market Maine lobster globally, is funded through fees from lobstermen, dealers and processors. A law passed earlier this year raised its budget from $350,000 to $2 million. Representatives did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

It’s not clear whether the process shown in the video is an accepted industry standard. PETA has argued that it doesn’t matter whether the process is limited to one facility.

“There are more-humane alternatives,” Paden said.

He said PETA repeatedly approached Linda Bean’s company before releasing the video to discuss “alternative slaughtering methods” but was unsuccessful.

The group said humane ways to kill lobster include stunning them, which kills any nerves and any ability to feel pain. A less common method is “high-pressure processing,” which kills and cooks the lobster within seconds. One Maine processor, Richmond-based Shucks Maine Lobster, uses that method. Shucks owner John Hathaway said high-pressure processing is expensive but is considered by some to be a more humane method. He thinks using that process gives the company the opportunity to be innovative.

McCarron said the lobster industry has not discussed alternative processing methods because research indicates that lobsters cannot feel pain.

“Our customers should feel confident that our industry operates through the highest quality and food safety standards,” she said.

The research on whether crustaceans feel pain is inconclusive. Some European researchers cited by PETA have found that lobsters exhibit behaviors consistent with response to painful stimuli, while other research has classified crustaceans as arthropods that do not have a centralized nervous system.

This is not the first time PETA has targeted the lobster industry. In 2008, the organization tried to open a “lobster empathy center” at an abandoned jail in Skowhegan to depict what a lobster goes through after it’s caught.

McCarron also said PETA should not cast stones, given its own history on animal rights. She cited allegations that the organization has killed thousands of animals despite its mission advocating “total animal liberation.” The claim is based on records obtained from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Hayes, in an emailed statement, said Bean’s Rockland facility may have been targeted by PETA because of her public profile and because the facility supplies lobster to the Maine Lobster Festival.

Asked whether Linda Bean was targeted specifically, Paden said Bean’s public profile is coincidental and the organization’s intent is to shed light on industry practices.

Dick Grotton of the Maine Restaurant Association said he doesn’t think PETA’s claim will have much short-term effect.