PORTLAND, ME - JULY 22: A bright orange lobster sits on the deck of the Billy and Andy lobster boat owned by Bill Coppersmith of Windham Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Coppersmith caught the exotic crustacean while fishing in deepwater canyons in the Gulf of Maine. Coppersmith said he has never seen an orange lobster like this in many years of fishing, though he did snag a white lobster in 1997. Coppersmith named him "Captain Eli" after his four-year old grandson. The lobster will be kept at the Fisherman's Catch in Raymond, run by Coppersmith's son, Billy Jr., for about a month before Coppersmith releases it back into the ocean. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Food - Drink
Why Whole Foods Is Pausing Its Sale Of Maine Lobsters
After recent changes in Maine lobsters’ sustainability ratings, Whole Foods decided to put a pause on their sale beginning December 15 — but it’s not just because of the lobsters. According to NOAA Fisheries, which monitors the nation’s ocean resources, vessel strikes and gear entanglement have been hurting the North Atlantic right whale population.
NOAA Fisheries do not blame lobster fisherman for the precarious state of the right whale, which have been endangered since 1970. Even so, Whole Foods may not be the only retailer that will turn its back on Maine lobsters since their sustainability rating depends, among other factors, on whether or not harvesting them harms other species.
Unsurprisingly, Whole Foods’ decision has frustrated Maine governor Janet Mills, the region’s Congressional representatives, and the fishermen’s association. In a joint statement, these groups said that the decision harms “the livelihoods of hardworking men and women,” and pointed out that “there has never been a right whale death attributed to Maine lobster gear.”
In any case, Whole Foods’ choice to stop selling Maine lobsters is not permanent — the chain has said it is closely monitoring the situation and is committed to working with suppliers, fisheries, and environmental advocacy groups as it develops. A pause might even help Maine lobsters, especially since its stocks were declining due to past unsustainable fishing practices.