PORTLAND, Maine — A coalition representing the Maine lobster industry is suing an aquarium on the other side of the country for recommending that seafood customers avoid buying a variety of lobster caught primarily in their state.

Industry groups, including the Maine Lobster Association, are suing California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium for defamation, arguing in a lawsuit filed Monday that their prized catch should not be on a «red list» published by Seafood. Watch, a conservation program that operates.

Last year, Seafood Watch put lobster from the US and Canada on your list of shellfish to be avoided due to the threat posed to rare whales by becoming entangled in fishing gear used to harvest American lobster, the species that makes up the majority of the US lobster market.

The endangered North American right whales number only about 340 and have declined in recent years.

But the lobster industry is arguing before the US District Court in Maine that the aquarium’s recommendation is based on bad science and incorrectly portrays lobster fishing as a threat to whales. The lawsuit asks the court to force the aquarium to remove «defamatory statements» from its website and materials, according to court records.

“This is an important lawsuit that will help eradicate the damage caused by people who have no idea how careful lobstermen take to protect the ecosystem and the ocean,” said John Petersdorf, CEO of Bean Maine Lobster Inc., one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, in a statement.

The aquarium says its recommendations are correct based on the best available evidence. It says that right whales are indeed vulnerable to becoming entangled in fishing gear.

The lawsuit ignores “ample evidence that these fisheries pose a serious risk to the survival of the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and seeks to curtail the First Amendment rights of a beloved institution that educates the public about the importance of of a healthy ocean,” said Kevin Connor, a spokesman for the aquarium.

Another group, the Marine Stewardship Council, last year suspended a sustainability certification rewarded Maine’s lobster industry over concerns about harm to whales. The loss of sustainability recommendations has caused some retailers to stop selling lobster.

The American lobster industry is primarily based in Maine. The industry generated 98 million pounds of lobster to the docks last year. That was less than the year before, but historically quite a high number.

Por admin