AUGUSTA — Sixty-two members of the Maine House and Senate have signed a letter to Monterey Bay Aquarium urging the immediate reversal of its “Red List” designation of Maine lobster as environmentally unsustainable.
Among the bipartisan group of legislators who signed the Sept. 20 letter, authored by Rep. Nathan Carlow, R-Buxton, were Jeffrey Evangelos, I-Friendship; Ann Matlack, D-St. George; and MaryAnne Kinney, R-Knox.
“While this false and reckless report raises serious questions regarding your organization’s credibility, the greater concern to us is its destructive impact to Maine lobstermen, their families, and the cherished maritime culture they sustain,” the letter states.
“Maine lobstermen have phased out the use of floating rope, cleared 30,000 miles of line from Maine waters, and have accounted for exactly zero right whale entanglements since 2004. Additionally, the vast majority of right whale deaths have been attributed to vessel strikes, according to the NOAA. It’s perplexing why your report overlooks these realities.”
In a statement, Carlow announced his intention to request that the attorney general file suit against the Monterey Bay Aquarium if it fails to comply with the requests outlined in the letter.
“This is akin to defamation, and has devastated an entire industry of honest, hard-working, and responsible Mainers,” he said. “If this out-of-state special interest group refuses to repair the damage they caused, then the State of Maine should pursue legal action compelling them to do so.”
In a press release about the letter, Jacob Knowles, a fifth-generation lobsterman from Winter Harbor, said the Red List designation comes at a time that is already tough for Maine lobstermen, “Our profit margins have been cut down so much by inflated gear, bait, and fuel prices,” he said. “We can’t absorb much more of a price drop and remain profitable.”
Knowles is also captain of a fishing boat called “F/V Rest Ash-oar,” and owns a viral social media account where he gives viewers an inside look of the lobster trade.