November 16, 2022
PORTLAND, ME – Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, and Governor Janet Mills today released the following statement after the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announced plans to temporarily suspend their certification of Maine’s lobster fishery. In their decision, MSC acknowledges that while the Maine fishery meets standards for sustainability and environmental impact and is unlikely to cause harm to right whales, it is unable to certify any fishery that is not in compliance with federal regulations – a standard MSC believes the fishery does not meet due to the ongoing litigation in CBD v. Ross.
“Today’s decision by the Marine Stewardship Council to temporarily suspend certification of Maine’s lobster fishery is the result of a years-long campaign from misguided environmentalist groups who seem to be hellbent on putting a proud, sustainable industry out of business without regard to the consequences of their actions. While the Maine industry met the highest standards for environmental sustainability and impact, the current pending CBD v. Ross court case led by the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Humane Society of the United States made certification impossible. This litigation is based more on activism than evidence and is putting livelihoods in jeopardy.
“To be clear, this decision is not a reflection on the Maine lobster industry. As the MSC clearly states, ‘there is no recent evidence that the Maine lobster fishery is responsible for entanglements or interactions with right whales.’ The temporary suspension is purely because activists with an axe to grind have weaponized the court system and the Endangered Species Act to target the livelihoods of thousands of Maine lobstermen, their families, and the communities who work responsibly to maintain the delicate balance in Maine’s waters. The Maine lobster fishery has always complied with National Marine Fisheries Service regulations, and had the agency issued valid regulations, Maine’s lobster fishery would not have been in a position to lose its certification. It’s extraordinarily frustrating and incredibly unjust.
“We are deeply disappointed by this action, and hope that the MSC will reconsider the decision as litigation is ongoing in the matter. Any companies purchasing Maine lobster, or people deciding to enjoy a lobster roll, should view MSC’s decision purely as a result of a continuing legal process that is no fault of the fishery or lobstermen. MSC’s own independent review found the industry to be operating sustainably. In the meantime, we will continue doing everything in our power to support the iconic Maine industry and ensure that they have the resources they need to continue complying with any federal regulations.”