By TOM JOYCE
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – A group representing Maine’s lobster industry is suing a California aquarium for defamation.
The coalition, including the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, filed the lawsuit against the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California this week.
The coalition argues in its lawsuit that lobster should not be on a “red list,” which Seafood Watch, a conservation entity the aquarium runs, published.
Seafood Watch put lobster caught in the United States and Canada on its list of seafood to avoid last year. The organization argued that the industry threatened right whales and that these endangered whales were being harmed in lobstermen’s fishing gear.
However, in U.S. District Court, the coalition of lobstermen argue that Seafood Watch is incorrect and it needs to retract its “defamatory statements,” according to the lawsuit.
“This is a significant lawsuit that will help eradicate the damage done by folks who have no clue about the care taken by lobstermen to protect the ecosystem and the ocean,” John Petersdorf, chief executive officer of Bean Maine Lobster Inc., one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told the Associated Press in a statement.
The aquarium, however, stands by its claim.
Kevin Connor, a spokesman for the aquarium, told The Associated Press in a statement that, “the extensive evidence that these fisheries pose a serious risk to the survival of the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and they seek to curtail the First Amendment rights of a beloved institution that educates the public about the importance of a healthy ocean.”
Maine has the biggest lobster industry of any state. Maine lobstermen caught 98 million pounds of lobster last year, according to The Associated Press.