Save America’s Wildlife

Much ado about unsustainable lobster

Maine legislature responds after New England lobster red-listed

NOAA library | Public Domain
A right whale fluke

A bill before Maine’s Labor and Housing Committee would require the state employee pension fund to divest from companies “boycotting” Maine lobster. 

The bill essentially singles out Whole Foods – owned by Amazon – which suspended purchasing Gulf of Maine lobster due to concerns about North Atlantic right whales getting entangled in lobster ropes. If it becomes law, the Maine employee pension fund would sell back its $64 million in Amazon stock. 

While we have no view on whether investing in Amazon is a good or bad financial decision for the state of Maine, this feels like a case of letting no good deed go unpunished. 

Let’s remember why Whole Foods decided to stop purchasing Gulf of Maine lobster. Whole Foods has had long-standing commitments to purchasing sustainable seafood. When Gulf of Maine lobster was added to Seafood Watch’s ‘red list,’ the group’s least sustainable label, and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) removed its seal of approval, Whole Foods paused purchasing. The company said this pause would stay in place until either Seafood Watch increased its sustainability rating to yellow or green or MSC recertified the crustacean. 

Both third-party sustainability watchdogs removed sustainability credentials in 2022 due to threats to the North Atlantic right whale. With fewer than 340 remaining, this magnificent whale is swimming toward extinction. The leading cause of death and serious injury is fishing gear entanglements. Whales get caught in vertical lobster lines while feeding and migrating along the coast. 

From where we sit, a better use of everyone’s time would be helping the lobstermen and women transition to whale-safe fishing gear. Charting this course would ensure that lobstering jobs will continue to exist. Ditto for the right whale. 

You can read more here about our campaign to save the right whales.

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