The Working Waterfront

Officials, industry respond to lobster red listing

Luke Holden calls decision ‘negligent’

Posted 2022-10-27
Last Modified 2022-10-27

Luke Holden, founder and CEO of Luke’s Lobster was joined by Sen. Angus King, Gov. Janet Mills, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher, Casco Bay lobsterman Steve Train, and Curt Brown of Ready Seafood at Luke’s Lobster’s Portland restaurant on Friday, Sept. 10 to respond to the recent “red listing” of Maine lobster by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which urges consumers to avoid the seafood because its harvesting threatens North Atlantic right whales.

Holden’s comments follow:

“I was born into this amazing industry. My father, Jeff Holden, was the first licensed lobster processor here in the state of Maine. For the last 13 years leading Luke’s, and really for my entire life, I’ve been working to build the reputation and marketability of Maine Lobster.

“The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program’s red-listing of our fishery is negligent in the face of the work of my teammates and all the men and women that work to support this fishery. In August of 2020, when the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program was first rumored to red list the fishery, I organized a meeting with their team along with Sen. Collins, Sen. King, Gov. Mills, Rep. Pingree, Rep. Golden, Commissioner Keilher, Patrice McCaron from Maine Lobster Association, the CEO of Red Lobster, the leadership team from our largest customer, Curt Brown from Ready Seafood, and my team. It was remarkable how our elected officials showed up in the time of need, how well educated they are on the issue, and how passionate they were for standing up for what’s right.

“On the opposite end, it was remarkable how unprepared and disassociated the the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch team was. I believe everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, and so we formed a working group to make sure The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch team had access to all the information we industry leaders had access to. Through the communication process with the Monterey Bay team, it was clear that they were not interested in the specific facts of our fishery and that their minds were made up and aligned with the demands of their funders.

“One specific example was the scientific data that we shared around there being no whale habitat along the Maine coast within the exemption line (basically within three miles of the coast), which is the scientific consensus of federal authorities. When Monterey Bay responded that they had no interest to look at that data, to me that was a clear marker they were not interested in the facts.”