UPDATED: Marine Resources, Maine Lobstermen's Association respond to PETA videoLawyer: Linda Bean plant meets, exceeds standards; not cruel
Rockland — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video on their website Sept. 17 claiming lobsters and crabs are being treated cruelly at a Rockland processing plant, but those operating the plant say they are not violating any laws or standards.
PETA claims to have conducted a hidden-camera investigation at Linda Bean's Maine Lobster in Rockland. The video shows lobsters and crabs being torn apart and processed in a kitchen or plant environment. The faces of the workers in the video are blurred. The video can be viewed at youtu.be/4jgfyd6M-I0 or at the bottom of this story.
Attorney Steve Hayes, representing Linda Bean's Perfect Maine lobster company, said there is nothing in the video directly confirming that the plant in the video is Linda Bean's in Rockland.
In any case, he said Linda Bean's plant meets or exceeds all industry standards and does not violate the state's cruelty to animals statute. He said the plant puts out a safe, high quality product.
"Our practices are not any different than any other processors in Maine or Canada," he said.
PETA argues the lobsters and crabs are still alive during the processing and subjected to pain and suffering.
"Lobsters and crabs feel pain," PETA says on its website. "Because lobsters do not have a centralized nervous system — but instead have ganglia, or masses of nervous tissue, spread throughout their bodies — their deaths can be prolonged. A lobster's nervous system continues to function even after the animal is dismembered."
Hayes said the Maine Commissioner of Marine Resources Patrick Keliher sees the video as an attack on the entire industry and is leading a charge to address it.
Keliher released the following statement Sept. 17:
"It’s the position of the Maine Department of Marine resources that statements made today by PETA are nothing more than another disingenuous attempt to advance their agenda and negatively impact Maine's most important coastal industry and the economy it supports. PETA has not sought to change the animal-welfare statutes as they affect lobster through legitimate public processes, but prefers to seek media attention by attacking Maine businesses.
"Furthermore, after consultation with the DMR’s lead lobster biologist Carl Wilson, it is the position of the Department of Marine Resources that what is shown in the video is compliant with state and federal laws and regulations, including Maine’s animal-welfare statute.
"The Maine lobster industry is a state-of-the-art industry selling the best seafood in the world. Through its strict adherence to all laws and regulations, the Maine lobster-processor sector consistently demonstrates its commitment to food safety, as well as the freshness of Maine’s iconic lobster. As a result, Maine lobster is known around the world as a unique, high-quality product."
The Maine Lobstermen's Association called the PETA lobster video “another publicity stunt.” It provided the following statement:
"The recently created video by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) purporting to reveal the way lobsters are killed at a Rockland lobster processing facility is 'just another publicity stunt to raise money,' according to David Cousens, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA). 'This is the same group that wanted to open a lobster empathy center in Maine a few years back. They aren’t to be taken seriously.'
"Lobstermen in Maine take care to protect the lobsters they harvest, which last year brought more than $340 million in revenue to the state, according to Patrice McCarron, executive director of the MLA. She noted that Maine's lobster industry is highly regulated for conservation, food safety and quality standards, adding that the industry exceeds most of these standards. 'Lobstermen take great pride in their work and employ numerous conservation practices, such as returning female lobsters to the sea and using vents to allow undersized lobsters to escape the traps,' noted McCarron.
"Maine’s seafood processors produce high-quality products much sought after by consumers throughout the country and the world, she said. 'The lobster industry will continue to look to the best available science to guide our standards. We will not base those standards on an extremist agenda.'
"In 2011, the state Legislature amended a law to allow Maine companies to process and sell lobster parts such as knuckles and claws. Prior to that change, seafood processors could only process the entire lobster, which the Legislature found put those companies at a competitive disadvantage with their counterparts in Canada. Since 2011 several companies in Maine have ventured successfully into the market by selling Maine lobster products in ready-to-eat forms, providing essential jobs and revenue to the state."
Courier-Gazette Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 594-4401 ext. 122.
207 594-4401 ext. 122
Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast for 15 years.
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