In Maine, conservation is tradition.

For generations, the lobstermen of Maine have led the conservation efforts of their industry. The increase of minimum size limits; the implementation of a maximum size; the imposition of restrictions on egg bearing and v-notch lobsters; the restrictiveness of the permitting process itself. These are all initiatives that were led by and championed by the lobstermen, to preserve the fishery that they and so many Mainers depend upon.

Because of this, it is no surprise they are also committed to the sustainability of the critically endangered North American right whale, adopting necessary measures for their protection for 25 years. Something that, if you read the recent headlines, may come as a surprise.

In 1997, Maine lobstermen first implemented “weak links” to their fishing lines and removed all surface floating line. In 2009, more than 27,000 miles of floating ground line was replaced with whale-safe sinking line. In 2015, Maine lobstermen adjusted their gear in certain areas to a newly required minimum number of traps per buoy, reducing the amount of vertical rope present in the water. And earlier this year they converted their gear once again, including more “weak links,” more “weak rope” and more traps per buoy, to further reduce vertical line in the water column. All of this has been done to give the migrating whale species their best opportunity for population recovery.

Moreover, these costly measures have been taken with zero evidence that a North American right whale’s entanglement in Maine lobster gear has ever led to one’s death. Another fact that may come as a surprise to most.

Simply, Maine lobstermen have adhered to every rule that has been imposed upon them to protect the livelihood of the North American right whale. Why? Because they understand the importance of conserving the entire ocean they so deeply rely on.


As has been widely published and discussed, The Monterey Bay Aquarium recently added the American lobster to its “red list,” encouraging consumers to avoid the product. They believe its fishery imposes a significant enough threat to this species of whale to give such a catastrophic rating. The trickle-down effect of their baseless action will undoubtedly have profound negative impacts on the demand for the Atlantic lobster and risks crumbling this iconic multi-generational industry here in our state.

Given the lack of evidence that lobster fishing actually poses to these whales, in addition to the preservation lengths Maine lobsterman have actually taken to successfully protect them, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s decision at the least is irresponsible. In fact, it borders being defamatory to an industry that has done nothing but aid in the preservation of the whales the aquarium believes Maine lobstermen put at risk.

What more can our lobstermen do than everything they have been asked? Why has the Monterey Bay Aquarium put this target on their backs? Why do they have such unregulated power, enough to bring a critical component of our state’s economy to its knees? Where are the checks and balances, and who is really pulling the strings here?

Our lobstermen are due answers to these questions, and the consumers of their product deserve to know all of the facts of this situation.

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