The Working Waterfront

Letters to the editor—’A distinct voice,’ and ‘perception’

Posted 2023-05-12
Last Modified 2023-05-12

A distinct voice

To the editor:

Phil Crossman and his skin color and the adjectives used to describe it in his Observer column apparently rubbed at least one person in the wrong way (“Unacceptable,” letters to the editor, December/January issue).

My spouse and I lived two wonderful years in Maine and have studied the state’s geography, people, humor, history, and everything we could for the past many, many years. We remain from away but at least we understand what that means.

Maine humor is distinct and Phil Crossman is a distinct voice of that humor which unfortunately is gradually disappearing. Many great examples avail themselves in my memory, Marshall Dodge and Tim Sample being two, but the best were in the little general stores and post offices around the state and in barns and bars and fish docks.

Maine humor assumes the listener will think, and doesn’t need an apology or explanation. It sometimes takes a minute to sink in, particularly for those of us from away.

Please keep Phil Crossman’s ruminations coming despite his wry, rough, but well-meaning approach. We have had the great fortune of visiting Vinalhaven and spending time seeing that small corner of Maine from his eyes. I would venture there is no mean bone to be found in Phil. He suffers fools poorly though, and that is OK.

Mainers, born and bred, are a rare and rarified breed and the rest of us from away have absolutely little means to judge them, nor should we anyway.

Living on an island is different. Living in rural Maine is different. Phil Crossman is very different! We absolutely love his columns, please keep them coming without censorship or concern for our feelings.

Bob and Cammie Israel
Mobile, Ala.


Perception eclipses reality

To the editor:

“Report: Lobster remains a responsibly harvested species,” “Officials, industry respond to lobster red listing,” and “Will innovation save lobstering?”

Thank you for the above articles in The Working Waterfront about the alleged effect Maine lobster fishing has on the North Atlantic right whale. The reports are well-reasoned accounts of Maine’s lobster industry.

I fear that despite the present legal, technical, and scientific debate by governmental agencies, environmental activists, marine scientists, and industry experts to reach legal and regulatory solutions that may or may not reduce the risk to the North Atlantic right whale, the real threat is the perceived public belief that the Maine lobster industry is harming an endangered whale.

When the Marine Stewardship Council and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch red-listed Maine lobster it shifted the perception of the industry from an environmentally sustainable enterprise to one that does harm. Virtue signaling can quickly alter retail and consumer buying habits.

The decision by Whole Foods, HelloFresh, and other retailers to stop selling Maine lobster reflects the belief that the industry is doing harm. The negative perception is presently affecting the lobster market. This unsupported negative perception may jeopardize future funding of the industry with economic, social, and governance (ESG) motivated financial institutions.

ESG is an ideological initiative that evolved from a corporate social responsibility initiative promoted a few years ago by the United Nations. It is now an investment tool adopted by major banks and investment groups. Using ESG credit impact scores, banks and investment firms influence/coerce private companies to address among other concerns climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity loss.

ESG corporate funding decisions like any corporate decision can devastate local economies. For example, several million dollars were lost by local businesses when Coca Cola, Delta, and Major League Baseball were motivated to move the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game out of Atlanta for ESG political reasons. Lloyds Bank, Britain’s largest domestic bank, has stopped funding fossil fuel projects as part of its new policy to address climate change. The Maine lobster industry has now been put in the spotlight of virtue signaling and ESG financial pressures.

I am not sure if Maine’s political leaders who broadly support and promote ESG goals see the connection. Virtue signaling and ESG investment scores are strongly influenced by public opinion and in return affect corporate decisions. These ideas and interests are less influenced by the merits of the case that is now being pursued. The weight of ideology and not knowledge may eventually irreparably harm the industry.

Steven Whitney
Deer Isle

The Working Waterfront welcomes letters to the editor. Please send them to editor Tom Groening at with LTE in the subject line. Letters should be about 300 words and address issues that the newspaper covers. We also print longer opinion pieces, but please clear them first with the editor.