White House Serves Maine Lobster Despite Debate Over Its Unsustainable Status

Lobsters from the Gulf of Maine, a fishery that the two organizations have recently described as unsustainable, are on the menu of the White House state dinner Thursday night.

President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden will host French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at their first state dinner. The first course of the meal is buttered boiled lobster with caviar on it.

“Yesterday morning they had to send us 200 live lobsters,” White House executive chief Cristeta Comerford said of Maine’s lobster industry ahead of the diplomatic engagement.

White House executive chef Cris Comerford holds meals during a media preview for the State Dinner with President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron in the State Dining Hall of the White House on Wednesday, November 30, 2022. buttered Maine lobster, beef with shallot marmalade, American artisanal cheeses, and orange chiffon cake for dessert. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The White House, whether intentionally or not, is ignoring a growing battle between Maine’s lobster industry and conservatives over the plight of the critically endangered North Atlantic true whale. Fewer than 350 of the marine mammals remain, and they face numerous threats, including fishing tackle, shipwrecks and climate change.

In September, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which ranks the sustainability of seafood, Additional The American and Canadian lobster fisheries have been placed on the “red list” of species to avoid because of the risk to real whales from hunting crustaceans.

In its influential founding resolution, he wrote, “Taking entanglement is a leading cause of serious injury and death to North Atlantic true whales,” adding that “current management measures do not go far enough to reduce entanglement risks and promote species recovery.” ”

And last month, the London-based Marine Governing Council suspended Sustainability certificate referring July 22 for Gulf of Maine lobster fishing Federal Court decided that regulations aimed at protecting real whales fell short of legal requirements under the Endangered Species Act or the Cetacean Conservation Act.

“To meet the requirements of the MSC Fisheries Standard, fisheries must comply with all relevant laws,” MSC said at the time.

Few retailersTwo groups, including Whole Foods, have pulled lobsters from their menus and shelves in response to reviews—a move that has infuriated Maine’s lobster industry and lawmakers alike.

The White House did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Thursday.

Virginia Oliver, 101, works as a stern attendant measuring and striping lobsters on her son Max Oliver's boat off Rockland, Maine, on August 31, 2021.  The state's oldest lobster collector has been doing it since the beginning of the Great Depression.
Virginia Oliver, 101, works as a stern attendant measuring and striping lobsters on her son Max Oliver’s boat off Rockland, Maine, on August 31, 2021. The state’s oldest lobster collector has been doing it since the beginning of the Great Depression.

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

The Biden administration’s selection for Maine lobster was met with a mix of disappointment and celebration.

Gib Brogan, campaign director at environmental group Oceana, stressed that seafood choices affect marine environments.

“The lobster on the White House menu comes from a fishery with well-documented risks to the remaining 340 critically endangered North Atlantic true whales, which often become entangled in fishing gear,” he said in a statement. “Unless President Biden and the National Marine Fisheries Service take their responsibility to manage our oceans seriously and put in place proven, effective conservation measures to minimize the risk of whale entanglement, lobster on their menu cannot be considered sustainable by any definition.”

Representative Jared Golden (D-Maine) slammed the president for other reasons.

“If the Biden White House can prioritize buying 200 Maine lobsters for a fancy dinner, @POTUS he should also take time to meet with Maine lobsters, whose administration has now decided to go out of business,” Golden tweeted.

Among other things, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to limit the number of vertical lobster lines in Maine waters and impose new seasonal zone restrictions to protect true whales.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) used the White House event to encourage others to support her state’s lobster industry.

“Delicious, sustainable Maine lobster is the perfect choice as a main course for the president’s first State Dinner,” he said. tweeted. “If Maine lobster is good enough for the White House to serve, it’s also good enough for any seafood retailer to sell, including Whole Foods.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misrepresented Senator Susan Collins’ party. He’s a Republican.

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