Whole Foods decision to remove lobster divides environments and politicians


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Environmental groups are once again at odds with New England politicians and fishermen following a decision by high-end retail giant Whole Foods to stop fishing. sell Maine lobster.

Whole Foods recently said it would stop selling Gulf of Maine lobster in hundreds of its stores across the country. The company cited decisions by two sustainability organizations to withdraw support for the US lobster fishing industry.

The organisations, Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch, have both raised concerns about the risks to rare North Atlantic right whales from fishing gear. Entanglement in gear is one of the greatest threats to whales.

Whole Foods’ decision was an “important action to protect the endangered whale,” said Virginia Carter, Save America’s Wildlife Campaign associate at the Environment America Research & Policy Center.

“With fewer than 340 North Atlantic right whales, the species is swimming towards extinction unless things change,” Carter said.

Whole Foods said in a statement last week that it was monitoring the situation and “is committed to working with suppliers, fish harvesters and environmental groups as it develops.”

The company’s decision to stop selling lobster drew immediate criticism in Maine, home to the largest lobster fishing industry in the United States. State Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, and her four-member congressional delegation said in a statement that the Marine Stewardship Council’s decision to suspend its certification of Gulf of Maine lobster came despite years of stewardship and protection of whales by Maine fishermen.

“Despite this, the Marine Stewardship Council, followed by retailers, wrongly and blindly decided to follow the recommendations of ill-advised environmental groups rather than science,” Mills and the delegation said.

Whole Foods was not the first retailer to remove lobster from the menu for sustainability reasons. HelloFresh, the meal kit company, was among many retailers to pledge to stop selling lobster in September after California-based Seafood Watch placed US and Canadian lobster fisheries on its ‘red list’ of Avoid seafood.

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