In preparation for Thursday night's state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, 200 Maine lobsters were shipped out of the state and sent to the White House. The tone deaf move was not lost on Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat who represents the state's 2nd Congressional District.
If the Biden White House can prioritize purchasing 200 Maine lobsters for a fancy dinner, @POTUS should also take the time to meet with the Maine lobstermen his administration is currently regulating out of business. https://t.co/PLiGGopsid— Congressman Jared Golden (@RepGolden) December 1, 2022
Golden's tweet, from his official account, pointed out that President Joe Biden "should also take the time to meet with the Maine lobstermen his administration is currently regulating out of business." His tweet tagged the president's official account.
The problem with the Biden administration and Maine's lobster industry appears to have stemmed from early into Biden's term when he signed an executive order getting rid of former President Donald Trump's executive order on regulations, with Maine lobstermen fearing they could be affected. Concerns have existed for years to do with such regulations, which are supposedly in the name of protecting the right whale.
Golden is hardly the only one speaking out against the regulations. He's not the only Democrat either, as there has been bipartisan concern.
A letter dated March 30, 2022 from Gov. Janet T. Mills, a Democrat, was sent earlier this year to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo that called on the administration to extend the deadline for when lobstermen had to use specific gear by, as it is particularly scarce. Reps. Golden and Chellie Pingree, who is also a Democrat, as well as Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, the former who is a Republican and the latter an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, all signed on.
In September of last year, News Center Maine highlighted how "Bipartisan group of 151 Maine legislators call on Biden to rescind new lobster fishing regulations."
As a Wednesday article from David Guildford, also at News Center Maine pointed out in highlighting the fact that Biden will serve Maine Lobster, the regulations about which gear to use have been stalled by a federal judge:
But, above the appetizers and color-coordinated floral arrangements, butter-poached Maine lobster was at the very top of the menu.
Normally, this would not be out of place. Lobster is as beloved in France as in America and is even considered among traditional French holiday staples. But, while the Bidens proudly ordered 200 crustaceans for their most important meal in year, the administration has, in part, caused it to be absent from many a dinner table across the country over the past year.
Exactly two weeks before Thursday's state dinner, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ordered a two-year extension before federal regulations would take effect that would require new lobster fishing gear and fewer lines in the water — all in an effort to avoid the endangered right whale from getting entangled.
That decision is the latest chapter, as ongoing legal battles continue to throw the lobster industry in limbo. No right whale death has ever been attributed to Maine lobster fishing gear. But NOAA and other environmental organizations believe it still poses the greatest risk of harm to the animal.
Changes have included reinstating a federal fishing area closure from October to January, and new weak links in rope that fishermen complain could snap even under heavy storm swells — let alone a right whale.
In September, the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch designated Maine Lobster as a food to "avoid," directly citing a threat to right whales. Thousands of food distribution companies, including meal order giants Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, followed the Watch's recommendations and announced they would pull Maine lobster from their menus. On Nov. 21, Whole Foods announced it would stop buying Maine lobster. In its explanation, the company said cited the Watch's designation.
Maine's Congressional delegation and fisherman representatives have denounced the moves. During a Sept. 9 press conference, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, called the aquarium an "arrogant fish zoo," and has since proposed the Red List Monterey Bay Aquarium Act, aimed at cutting federal funding to the nonprofit. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is a co-sponsor.
The regulations have made their way into not just state articles like the one above, though there's plenty more where that came from, including a January 28 editorial from CentralMaine.com, "Our View: Lobster industry needs more time to meet new regulations." It's also made national news as well, with The Economist covering on September 22 how "Maine’s lobster industry is feeling the pinch."
A quoted retweet from CNN's Manu Raju pointed out how Golden is "a moderate Democrat in a swing district." If there ever were such a thing as a "moderate Democrat," Golden may be it. He voted against the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March of last year, which contributed to the massive inflation the country has been experiencing. In December 2019, Golden also voted against articles of impeachment for Trump's first impeachment.
Golden has also been seen as vulnerable, though he just recently won reelection last month, with 48.2 percent of the vote to Republican opponent Bruce Poliquin's 44.9 percent.
A message from a moderate Democrat in a swing district to the president —> https://t.co/2imONUPok4— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 1, 2022
That all being said, such Maine politicians may ultimately have themselves to blame. As Steve Robinson noted for Maine Wire in October, "Maine Congressional delegation backed HUGE spending increases for agency threatening lobster industry," referring to funding increases for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA).