Seafood watch group lists New England lobster as seafood to avoid
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The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program is advising consumers to avoid eating lobsters and some other types of sea creatures. According to a report released by the group on Tuesday, the gear used in fishing for lobster and other seafood is known to entangle the endangered North Atlantic right whale.
The population of the North Atlantic right whale has shrunk by 30% in the past decade and there are now fewer than 340 of them alive.
It is because of the danger the gear puts on the North Atlantic right whale, the widely respected world leader in seafood rankings is asking consumers and businesses to avoid lobster, all East Coast snow crab, several species of flounder and Atlantic cod.
The Seafood Watch program has labeled 14 fisheries red — a designation that does not ban the eating or selling of fish but can lead restaurants and grocery stores to drop them from menus or label them unsustainable — including several located in New England, one of the areas where lobster is heavily consumed.
The report is going to have a “detrimental effect” on New England, said Fred Penny, who has been catching lobster off the coast of Massachusetts for more than 50 years.
“If the restaurants put up a sign that says don’t eat lobsters, people aren’t going to come in and eat lobster. That’s my concern,” Penny told CBS News senior national and environmental correspondent Ben Tracy.
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Vice President of Global Ocean Initiatives Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly said that if an industry finds a way to change its fishing practices, it can be removed from the list. But for now, it is important that consumers are informed of the impact a New England lobster roll can have on the larger ecosystem.
“No one wants to know their appetite for seafood is driving a species to extinction. So what seafood watch is doing is putting a flag in the ground right now and saying, ‘There’s an important issue let’s pay attention,'” said Kemmerly.
The New England lobster industry has been impacted by climate change in recent seasons.
According to a 2021 report, the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the earth’s oceans. The warming water is causing some fish species, including lobster, to migrate north.
The lack of lobster in the area has caused lobstermen Steve Train to start farming kelp because the lobster catch is increasingly unpredictable.
“Right now, we’re heavily dependent on one resource. So if there is a turn in the fishery, there needs to be something else,” Train said.