Environmental groups are once again siding with politicians and fishermen in New England in the wake of high-end retail giant Whole Foods’ decision to stop selling Maine lobster.
Whole Foods recently said it would stop selling lobster from Maine at hundreds of its stores nationwide. The company cited decisions by a pair of sustainability organizations to walk away from its support of the American lobster fishing industry.
The organizations, the Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch, both cited concerns about the risk to rare North Atlantic right whales from fishing gear. Getting entangled in gear is one of the biggest threats to whales.
Virginia Carter, Save America’s wildlife campaign associate at the Center for Environmental Research and Policy, said Whole Foods’ decision was an important action to protect the “highly endangered” whales.
“With fewer than 340 North Atlantic right whales in existence, the species is swimming toward extinction,” Carter said.
Whole Foods said in a statement last week that it is monitoring the situation and is “committed to working with suppliers, fisheries and environmental advocacy groups as it develops.”
Lobster industry criticized by politicians
The company’s decision to stop selling the lobsters drew immediate criticism in Maine, which is home to America’s largest lobster fishing industry. The state’s governor, Democrat Janet Mills, and its four-member congressional delegation said in a statement that the Marine Stewardship Council’s decision to suspend certification of the Gulf of Maine lobster came despite years of advocacy and protection of whales by Maine fishermen.
“Despite this, the Marine Stewardship Council, along with retailers, wrongly and blindly decided to follow the recommendations of misguided environmental groups rather than science,” Mills and the delegation said.
Whole Foods was not the first retailer to remove lobster from the menu due to sustainability concerns. HelloFresh, the meal kit company, was one of several retailers that pledged to stop selling lobster in September after California-based Seafood Watch placed it on a “red list” of seafood to avoid in American and Canadian lobster fisheries. was.