On Sept. 6 Seafood Watch issued a report that included a recommendation to “…avoid American lobster caught by trap from Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine stocks due to risks to the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.” This California-based nonprofit based at the Monterey Bay Aquarium makes recommendations to consumers, chefs and business professionals to inform their seafood purchasing decisions.

The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce (PBRCC) strongly opposes this recommendation.

In a Sept. 8 letter to Seafood Watch, the entire Maine congressional delegation and Governor Mills noted their advisory is not evidence-based, lacks due process and will have substantial consequences.

The letter asked Seafood Watch to remove their advisory, noting, “In a courtroom, we require evidence before convicting someone of a crime; but you are seeking to sentence Maine’s lobstermen with conjecture, assumptions, and guesswork instead of hard facts.”

“That’s not science, that’s irresponsible conjecture, a baseless smear, and an egregious violation of the scientific principles you claim to stand for. This is among the most irresponsible actions we have ever seen in our years of public service, and we are deeply disappointed that you have allowed this action to — perhaps irreparably — tarnish the name of your previously-respected institution.”

This recommendation negatively impacts one of Maine’s primary economic drivers. According to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association,

“…the Maine lobster fishery generates more than $1.5 billion annually in sales and supply chain revenue to the region’s economy. Maine’s lobster fleet is made up of a diverse collection of small businesses supporting tens of thousands of jobs in rural communities along the coast. The fishery directly supports more than 10,000 jobs as captains and sternmen who work aboard the vessels to haul in Maine’s signature catch. Maine’s wholesale lobster distribution supply chain contributes an additional $967 million and another 5,500 jobs.”

As a fierce champion for our members and businesses on the Midcoast, PBRCC stands with all businesses relying upon Maine lobsters for their livelihoods. Seafood Watch’s recommendation could have a significant detrimental effect on our members, families, neighbors, friends and visitors.

PBRCC is proud of the work our members do in the lobster industry and encourages you to support our members, including the following: Brooks Trap Mill, Thomaston; Graffam Bros. Seafood Market, Rockport; Island Institute/Archipelago, Rockland; Jeff’s Marine, Inc., Thomaston; Johanson Boatworks, Rockland; Knight Marine Service, Rockland; Ocean Pursuits Full-Service Boatyard, Rockland; Rockland (Lobster) Festival Corporation, Rockland; Rockport Steel, Rockport; and Steel-Pro Incorporated, Rockland.

Please note that the list above reflects only a small sampling of businesses registered as PBRCC members and impacted by the Seafood Watch recommendation, and does not reflect the numerous other enterprises (both members and non-members of PBRCC) who are negatively impacted by Seafood Watch’s recommendation.

Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce