Retailers pull lobster from menus after ‘red list’ warning

Sep 7, 2022, 7:45 PM | Updated: Sep 8, 2022, 12:39 pm
CORRECTS DATE - A sternman on a lobster fishing boat drinks his coffee while heading out to sea bef...

CORRECTS DATE - A sternman on a lobster fishing boat drinks his coffee while heading out to sea before dawn, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, off of Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP Phot6o/Robert F. Bukaty)

(AP Phot6o/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Some retailers are taking lobster off the menu after an assessment from an influential conservation group that the harvest of the seafood poses too much of a risk to rare whales and should be avoided.

Whales can suffer injuries and fatalities when they become entangled in the gear that connects to lobster traps on the ocean floor. Seafood Watch, which rates the sustainability of different seafoods, said this week it has added the American and Canadian lobster fisheries to its “red list” of species to avoid.

The organization, based at Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, said in a report that the fishing industry is a danger to North Atlantic right whales because “current management measures do not go far enough to mitigate entanglement risks and promote recovery of the species.”

Thousands of businesses use Seafood Watch’s recommendations to inform seafood buying decisions, and many have pledged to avoid any items that appear on the red list. A spokesperson for Blue Apron, the New York meal kit retailer, said the company stopped offering a seasonal lobster box prior to the report, and all of the seafood it is currently using follows Seafood Watch’s guidelines. HelloFresh, the Germany-based meal kit company that is the largest such company operating in the U.S., also pledged shortly after the announcement to stop selling lobster.

“HelloFresh is committed to responsible sourcing and follows guidelines from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program,” said Saskia Leisewitz, a spokesperson for HelloFresh.

Seafood Watch assigns ratings of “best choice,” “good alternative” and “avoid” to more than 2,000 seafood items based on how sustainably they are managed. The organization’s recommendations have been influential in the past, such as when it red-listed the Louisiana shrimp fishery, prompting efforts to better protect sea turtles. The fishery was later removed from the red list.

The lobster fishing industry has come under scrutiny from Seafood Watch because of the threat of entanglement in fishing gear. The North Atlantic right whales number less than 340 and entanglement is one of the two biggest threats they face, along with collisions with ships, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other groups have said. The population of the giant animals, which were decimated during the commercial whaling era generations ago, has fallen in recent years.

Members of the lobster fishing industry, which is also coping with increased federal fishing restrictions to protect the whales, pushed back against the Seafood Watch rating. The lobster industry in Maine, where most of the U.S.’s lobster comes to land, has not had a documented interaction with a right whale in almost two decades, said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.

“Lobster is one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world due to the effective stewardship practices handed down through generations of lobstermen. These include strict protections for both the lobster resource and right whales,” McCarron said.

American and Canadian lobster fishermen target the same species, the American lobster, which is popular as live seafood and in processed products such as lobster rolls and lobster ravioli. The vast majority of the world’s American lobster comes to the shore in New England and eastern Canada, and the crustaceans are both a key piece of the economy and a cultural marker in both places.

The U.S. lobster fishery is also one of the most lucrative in the country and was worth more than $900 million at the docks in 2021, when fishermen caught more than 130 million pounds (59 million kilograms) of the crustaceans.

Seafood Watch partners with numerous major seafood buyers on its recommendations. Some of the buyers, such as Compass Group and Cheesecake Factory, did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press. A spokesperson for one, Mars Petcare, said the company doesn’t have lobster in its supply chain.

Environmental groups said Seafood Watch’s decision places a spotlight on the fishery and the need to do more to protect whales.

“Fishery managers must increase protections to save North Atlantic right whales so seafood retailers, consumers, and restaurants can put American lobster and crab back on the menu,” Oceana campaign director Gib Brogan said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal...
Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press

After Supreme Court backs Bremerton praying coach, no sweeping changes

Three months after the decision, there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches have been newly inspired to follow Joseph Kennedy’s high-profile example.
16 hours ago
(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

GOP candidate apologizes after antisemitic post surfaces

A GOP candidate for the Washington Legislature has acknowledged that a post he put on social media in 2020 is antisemitic.
16 hours ago
Colette Peters, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, speaks during the Senate Judiciary Commi...
Associated Press

New federal prisons chief vows to fix troubles, regain trust

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new director of the federal Bureau of Prisons vowed Thursday that “the buck stops with me” when it comes to fixing the crisis-plagued agency, ticking off a list of top priorities, from solving a staffing crisis to ending widespread misconduct. Colette Peters’ testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee — the first […]
16 hours ago
Robert Leisure surveys the wreckage of his business, Getaway Marina, which was destroyed during the...
Associated Press

Hurricane Ian sweeps away homes, memories on barrier islands

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (AP) — On the road into Fort Myers Beach, cars are left abandoned in the roadway, where they stalled when Hurricane Ian’s storm surge flooded their engines and their drivers couldn’t continue. Broken trees, boat trailers and other debris litter the road. It’s even worse in the seaside tourist town, much […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Royal Mint unveils first coins to feature King Charles III

LONDON (AP) — DO NOT PUBLISH UNTIL 2301GMT THURSDAY – HOLD FOR RELEASE Britain’s Royal Mint has unveiled the first coins to feature the portrait of King Charles III. Britons will begin to see Charles’ image in their change from around December, as 50-pence coins depicting him gradually enter circulation. The new monarch’s effigy was […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Authorities: Texas man shoots 2 migrants near Mexico border

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two brothers in Texas have been arrested after authorities say one of them opened fire on a group of migrants getting water near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one man and shooting a woman in the stomach, according to court documents filed Thursday. The shooting Tuesday was in rural Hudspeth County about […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Retailers pull lobster from menus after ‘red list’ warning