Maine politicians issued a scathing statement after Whole Foods announced that the store would no longer sell lobsters caught off New England in response to environmental concerns that the fishing industry was threatening a rare whale.
“We are disappointed with Whole Foods’ decision and deeply frustrated that the Marine Stewardship Council’s suspension of the lobster industry’s sustainability certificate continues to harm the livelihoods of hardworking men and women on the coast of Maine,” Maine Governor Janet Mills wrote. joint statement with the senses. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden.
Whole Foods announced it would stop selling Gulf of Maine lobster in hundreds of its stores across the country beginning this month. The company cited decisions by two sustainability organizations that withdrew support for the U.S. lobster fishing industry.
The Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch recently withdrew their approvals over concerns about risks to rare North Atlantic right whales from fishing gear. Entanglement in gear is one of the greatest threats to whales.
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Political leaders in Maine, which has the nation’s largest lobster fishing industry, criticized Whole Foods’ decision, arguing that no right whales died from Maine’s lobster fishing gear and that the The state’s fishing community has a long history of working to protect right whales.
“In a call to retailers just a few weeks ago, we laid out the facts: there has never been a right whale death attributed to Maine lobster gear; Maine lobster fishermen have a history of sustainability of 150 years; and the Maine lobster community has consistently demonstrated its commitment to protecting right whales,” wrote the governor and the four other state leaders.
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“Despite this, the Marine Stewardship Council, followed by retailers, has wrongly and blindly decided to follow the recommendations of misguided environmental groups rather than science. We urge the Marine Stewardship Council and retailers to reconsider their potentially devastating decisions.”
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Meanwhile, environmentalists have praised sustainability organizations and Whole Foods for the moves.
Virginia Carter, an associate with the Save America’s Wildlife campaign at the Environment America Research & Policy Center, said Whole Foods’ decision is an “important action to protect the highly endangered whale.”
“With fewer than 340 North Atlantic right whales, the species is swimming towards extinction unless things change,” Carter said.
A Whole Foods representative told Fox News Digital that the chain will continue to sell lobsters that have been caught off the Gulf of Maine under the Marine Stewardship Council’s previously active certification program or have been rated “green.” or “yellow” by the MBA Seafood Watch program.
“We will suspend the purchase of Gulf of Maine lobster and resume when the MSC suspension is lifted or the MBA Seafood Watch program rating changes to green or yellow,” the Whole Foods spokesperson said.
The grocery chain added in a statement that the Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch are “critical to maintaining the integrity of our standards for all wild-caught seafood found in our seafood department.”
“We continue to sell Gulf of Maine lobster in our stores that was purchased while still under active MSC certification (prior to the suspension) or active MBA yellow rating. We are closely monitoring this situation and we we are committed to working with suppliers, fisheries, and environmental advocacy groups as it develops,” the statement continued.
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Meal kit company HelloFresh was among other retailers that pledged to stop selling lobster in September after California-based Seafood Watch placed US and Canadian lobster fisheries on its seafood ‘red list’. sea to avoid.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.