June 25, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) released the following statement in response to a Presidential Memorandum that calls on USTR and USDA to provide the lobster industry with the same form of financial assistance that has already been extended to farmers suffering as a result of China’s retaliatory tariffs. Today’s move comes after the full Maine delegation wrote a letter to the President urging him to provide this support in the face of increasing economic challenges for the lobster industry.
“This announcement is a welcome development for Maine’s hardworking lobstermen and women who are facing severe financial difficulties due to unfair retaliatory tariffs as well as the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed restaurants and reduced exports,” said Senators Collins and King and Representative Pingree. “We have always been strong, steadfast advocates for resolving the trade barriers harming the lobster industry, which supports the livelihoods of thousands of Mainers, and have repeatedly pushed for actions to alleviate the economic challenges those employed in our seafood supply chain are experiencing. It is encouraging that the Administration is listening and indicating it plans to address the trade-related needs of the lobster industry. We will closely monitor the implementation of these policies, and we will continue to fight on behalf of Maine’s lobstermen and women, including our efforts to ensure that the impending right whale regulations are fair and reflect reality in the Gulf of Maine.”
The Maine Delegation has consistently stood with the lobster industry, which faces a number of serious threats including the ongoing trade war with China and potential federal regulations associated with the ongoing right whale issue. In November 2019, Collins, King, and Pingree urged the USTR to pursue a trade deal with the European Union that would prioritize lobster; in a February 2019 letter, the Delegation asked the USTR to prioritize lobster in negotiations, noting that live lobster exports to China dropped by 64% in the first month after the retaliatory tariffs were imposed. The Maine Delegation has also pressed for the Administration to offer funding to help the lobster industry access new markets.