An influential arbiter of the sustainability of seafood is considering whether to drop lobster caught off Maine and Canada from its roster of approved products.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch announced this week that it is reviewing whether to add eastern Atlantic lobster harvests and other trap-pot and gillnet fisheries to its ” Red List,” due to the risk they pose for the survival of the endangered North Atlantic right whale.
Regulators in both countries are enacting seasonal closures of fishing grounds to traditional gear, and forcing gear changes that aim to make it easier for whales to break through traplines that pose a risk of deadly entanglements. Last year another seafood rating program, the Marine Stewardship Council, suspended and later reinstated its certification of part of Maine’s lobster fishery.
But the Seafood Watch program’s draft red list states the new management actions in the lobster fisheries are not sufficient to prevent a high risk of harm to the right whales. National seafood retailers and restaurants, such as Whole Foods and Red Lobster, use Seafood Watch ratings to guide their buying decisions.
A spokesperson for the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative says the proposal undermines the industry’s long history of adapting gear and fishing practices to protect North Atlantic right whales. Seafood Watch is taking public comment on the proposal until the end of this month.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.