Maine Lobster Association: Maine lobster boats pledge to protect our ocean


In-depth investigative reporting is increasingly rare these days. So, in that regard, it was nice to see the Portland Press Herald and the Boston Globe devote resources to spending a year examining some of the very real challenges facing the Maine lobster industry.

Tanner Lazaro breaks frozen bait while working as a stern man on Frankie Thompson’s Obsession boat on July 24. Most days in the summer, Tanner, 15, gets up early to go to work in the back of a boat. This is how the native of Vinalhaven always spent his time away from school. Brianna Soukup / Staff Photographer

The resulting series, The Lobster Trap (December 12-14), however, missed the boat in its quest to invent a drama that puts Maine’s lobster industry at the forefront of the “battle against climate change.” . It is unfortunate that the tone of the articles suggests that you are either enlightened and determined to save the planet from climate change or are sadly naive and bury your head in the sand as your livelihood slowly fades away. . Nothing could be further from the truth.

From the perspective of the lobster industry, the series does not accurately tell their story. Her seven key takeaways are disconnected from people who were just a means to an end. This report rejects, dehumanizes and downplays the role of fishermen in mitigation and adaptation strategies, and it perpetuates a narrative that they are unwilling to engage in conversations about climate change.

Lobster boats are not climate deniers and they do not reject science. In fact, their livelihood depends on solid science as well as their intimate understanding of our oceans. They live it, observe it, innovate and adapt constantly so that they and future generations can continue to live from the sea. But they also understand that science is incomplete and that we are continually learning. While scientists have many answers, science itself is constantly evolving and sometimes what we thought was right turns out to be wrong. Fishermen rightly question scientific “truths”, not because they do not believe them, but because they are flawed explanations that often do not correspond to what they observe when they see it. ‘they work at sea.

They also recognize that most decision makers do not have an intimate knowledge of life at sea. While decisions may make sense from the outside, they are often not the best choice for the fishing community. As independent business owners who must trust their instincts to succeed in an ever-changing ocean environment, fishermen have learned not to blindly accept the way outsiders interpret their world. They have a survival instinct to challenge, question and hold accountable so that policymakers do not impose changes that could erase their sustainable fishery or undo their legacy and way of life.

This doubt has served the fishery well. During the 1980s and 1990s, scientific experts warned of an impending collapse in the lobster fishery, riddled with dire predictions. But this science was incomplete and, therefore, disconnected from the first-hand observations of fishermen of a growing and healthy lobster population. The lobster industry demanded better science and as a result, modeling techniques were greatly expanded and were able to tell a more complete and accurate story of the health of the lobster resource, which has experienced a historic boom.

This is reminiscent of the current controversy over the impact of Maine’s lobster fishery on North Atlantic right whales. Lobster vessels in Maine have found that oceanographic changes have shifted the distribution of endangered right whales away from the waters in which they fish. Observed deaths have increased in Canada because these whales now feed there. However, the American whale protection policy does not take this into account. Fishermen should be applauded for calling for more extensive scientific research and demanding that documented sources of damage to these whales be removed before policymakers take an irreversible path to wipe out the world’s most sustainable fishery and the heritage of Maine fishing.

The hard-working men and women who make up Maine’s lobster industry are more than a tyrant rather than a visionary. This is a diverse group of people of the salt of the earth with very diverse political views, all of whom care deeply about our oceans and our planet. While there may be tensions, there is tolerance and a place for everyone, and there is a commitment to continue to manage our oceans and our planet as they have for nearly two centuries.


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