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Dave Sullivan of Richmond is a representative of the Maine Lobster Union.
As the Maine Lobster Union representative who works with fellow lobstermen everyday, I’m deeply concerned about the impact President Donald Trump’s failed leadership has had on our industry.
The year before Trump was sworn in as president, Maine’s lobster industry was flourishing. In 2016, we landed 132 million pounds of lobster worth $540 million. And New Englanders made up only a portion of the consumers in our market — the largest buyer of lobster in the U.S. is actually China.
Or at least it was, before Trump took office. His trade war led China to impose a 35 percent levy on American lobster, which meant buyers in China purchased their crustaceans from Canada instead. And until just last week, the European Union had a tariff on American lobster. As a result, in the span of one year, our lobster exports to China and Europe have been cut in half, costing lobster fisherman millions of dollars.
This would have been a painful loss to our economy under any circumstances, but it’s proven especially devastating on top of a poorly managed pandemic that has led to the worst economic crisis in recent memory. After all, when hotels, cruise ships, casinos and restaurants are shut down, there’s a lot less appetite for lobster.
That’s not all. As Maine fisherman Jeff Woodman told Time magazine, while demand for lobster has declined, the costs associated with lobster fishing have continued to increase, as Trump’s reckless trade war has made it more expensive to purchase the materials used to construct boats and lobster traps. And now, the trade deal that was supposed to revive the once thriving U.S.-China market partnership has failed under this administration: China has purchased even less lobster in 2020 than it did during the height of the trade war in 2019.
Thankfully, we can navigate our way back to profitability and bring an end to this chaos — by electing Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.
I know he can bring our economy back from the brink because he’s done it before. In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, President Barack Obama tasked Biden with implementing The Recovery Act, which created millions of jobs, rejuvenated our economy, and set us on the longest streak of job creation in decades. Unlike Trump, who saved his bailouts for Wall Street executives and members of Mar-a-Lago, Biden helped provide working families with the support they needed to make it through one of the toughest periods of their lives.
That’s what Biden will do once again as president: He will build back our economy from the bottom up — and he won’t settle for returning to the way things were before COVID-19 or before Trump became president. He is committed to building back better.
That means he will provide Americans with the support they need to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table and have peace of mind until we have this pandemic under control. And it means that, when we’re on the other side of this crisis, he will make sure that, this time, the rising tide really does lift us all.
Biden believes the goal of every trade decision must be to build the American middle class, create jobs, raise wages and strengthen communities. His plan is to mobilize the talent, grit and innovation of the American people to make sure the future is made in all of America — by all of America’s workers. This, he believes, is the best way to secure America’s position as the most powerful economy in the world: giving our workers and businesses the tools they need to compete, using taxpayer dollars to buy American and insisting on fair trade, including with countries like China, while making sure small businesses like Maine’s lobster fishermen don’t get caught up in the net.
There is so much on the line in this election for all Americans. But here in Maine, our votes can make a difference in deciding who comes out on top. So if you aren’t registered to vote, change that today. And make sure your voice is heard on Nov. 3.
Because the future of lobster fishing here in Maine — and let’s be honest: the future of all small businesses here in Maine — is on the ballot. And if we elect Biden president, I know our state will be on a roll once again.