Home USA News Whole Foods’ Decision to Take Lobsters Divides the Environment, Pol

Whole Foods’ Decision to Take Lobsters Divides the Environment, Pol

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

Whole Foods recently announced it will stop selling Gulf of Maine lobster in hundreds of its stores across the country. The company cited the decision by two sustainability organizations to withdraw their approval of the U.S. lobster industry.

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

Whole Foods’ decision was “an important action to protect critically endangered whales,” said Virginia Carter, a fellow at the Environment America Research and Policy Center for America’s Wildlife Campaign.

“With fewer than 340 right whales living in the North Atlantic, this species is headed for extinction unless things turn around for the better,” Carter said.

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

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

“Nevertheless, the Marine Stewardship Council, and retailers following suit, have mistakenly and blindly chosen to follow the recommendations of misguided environmental groups rather than science,” Mills and the delegation said.

Whole Foods wasn’t the first retailer to drop lobster from its menu due to sustainability concerns. Meal kit company HelloFresh was among several retailers that pledged to stop selling lobster in September after California-based Seafood Watch put American and Canadian lobster catches on its “red list” of seafood to avoid.

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