Candidates in Maine this campaign season are falling all over themselves trying to show who supports the lobster industry the most.

To see how it works out as a strategy for winning elections, we’ll have to wait until Nov. 8.

But it’s certainly not doing any favors for the men and women who make their living off the state’s iconic crustacean. They need support navigating their way through the rough waters ahead, as varying interests and crises collide in the Gulf of Maine.

What they’ve gotten is a lot of silly gimmicks — and even more empty politicking from candidates who are not being honest about what’s going on off Maine’s coast, and don’t appear serious about finding a solution.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden-D speaks to a crowd of about 350 during a rally for the lobster industry outside DiMillo’s on the Water in Portland on Wednesday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The gimmicks we can nearly tolerate. After all, that’s why they call it the “silly season” — you have Rep. Jared Golden cracking a lobster in an ad, or Bruce Poliquin asking Golden to return a $667 donation in a race where tens of millions of dollars will be spent. You get Sen. Angus King calling a renowned aquarium a “fish zoo,” and everyone racing to be the first to cut off its meager federal funding.

It’s not helpful, but at least it goes away once the votes are counted. The same can’t be said about some of the other nonsense being dragged out this fall.


Republicans seeking office against incumbent Democrats saw an opening in the threats to the lobster industry and are trying to exploit it. Again and again, they’ve gone too far.

Ed Thelander, who is running in the 1st Congressional District against Chellie Pingree, was forced to apologize after he said that federal regulators were trying to “rape” lobstermen. Poliquin and Paul LePage say that Democrats are lying about their support for lobster fishing and are working in the shadows to destroy it, all because of their work with environmental groups also worried about the future of the Gulf of Maine.

That’s absurd, particularly coming from people who have fought conservation and clean energy, held funding back from working waterfronts, and called for oil drilling off the Maine coast.

Pingree, Golden and Gov. Janet Mills have done as much as anybody to protect the interests of the Maine lobster industry. The difference between their position and that of their opponents is that theirs is based in reality, where competing points of view over the future of the Gulf of Maine have to be considered and reconciled in order to get the best outcome for everyone.

There’s no other way forward, and it’s counterproductive to think otherwise.

The new rules being forced on the lobster industry are a response to the rope-entanglement deaths of the endangered right whale. Entanglement sources are hard to pin down, but the ropes are coming from somewhere, and they are killing whales. You can’t expect regulators to stand down.


Likewise, the offshore wind farms proposed for the Gulf of Maine, also a concern to lobstermen, come in response to the climate crisis, and could provide a lot of the renewable energy necessary to power an economy that doesn’t destroy the planet.

Left unchecked, rising temperatures will harm the waters off the Maine coast, along with everyone who depends on it — the lobster fishery included. Offshore wind can help stop that decline, and create jobs and investment here.

In any case, wind power is coming to the federal waters off Maine, as part of the effort to transform the U.S. energy sector and save all the suffering and costs that climate change is starting to cause. No amount of protest from Maine will change that — it will only make it less likely that our voice is heard.

And no amount of yelling and foot-stomping is going to get regulators and federal courts to forget about the Endangered Species Act, which covers the right whale.

To give the lobster industry its best chance at success, elected officials must recognize those realities and prepare to work with all parties. They have to be part of the effort to find a balance that everyone can live with.

Instead, Maine Republicans seem only interested in getting people angry.

That may gain a few votes Nov. 8, but it pushes Mainers apart — and makes it less likely that the final compromise will benefit our state.

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