Two fish and seafood associations weigh in on President Biden’s upcoming extravagant lobster dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron.
On Wednesday night, Biden was criticized by Jared Golden (Democratic Maine Rep.) on Twitter for his Thursday seafood dinner with Macron that featured Maine lobster.
Golden criticised the president for not meeting with Maine lobstermen, despite his promise to protect the seafood industry while in office.
Bob Vanasse, executive Director of Saving Seafood, thanked Golden for calling attention to Biden on this issue and stated that his organization has struggled meeting with the current administration.
Vanasse stated that not only lobster is at risk, but also other seafood industries, like tuna or swordfish, have difficulties meeting with the White House.
Vanasse stated, “I applaud Congressman for calling out administration’s hypocrisy regarding our domestic fisheries & their policies.”
He continued, “This isn’t the first time something like this has occurred, but it is encouraging to see a Democrat pointing out it because the administration has been genuinely hostile and unhelpful to our domestic fish industry.”
Vanasse stated that the “most egregious example” of this was last summer’s Atlantic Marine Monument. President Obama created it with very little scientific backing under the Antiquities Act. He also noted that the monument prevents tuna, lobster, and swordfish fishing. Additionally, America’s sustainable red crab industry was being expelled from that area.
Vanasse stated that the Trump administration spent three years working to repeal President Obama’s ban against commercial fishing in that region. “And they did an extremely diligent job of studying science before they agreed that the ban would be lifted and our fishermen could fish in that area.”
Vanasse stated that the Biden administration had not continued to follow through on its policymaking with science and politics. Vanasse also said that they were fighting for the offshore lobster industry, red crab industry and fishermen last summer and only got one hour to defend the industry together with the Department of the Interior staff before there was even an appointed secretary from the Senate.
He stated that the Biden administration had taken away their “fisherman’s rights to fish for lobsters, crabs, swordfish, and tuna” on Columbus Day 2013.
Vanasse stated, “And I mean with regard to monument, it’s no surprise because Monica Medina was the champion of monument in Obama administration, and she’s also married to Ron Klain who’s chief of staff at White House.” “So, when we were fighting to protect those fisheries we couldn’t get any Democrats up against the White House. They just said that they tried. They called the White House, they called the Department of the Interior. The truth was that they couldn’t do it because Trump would have done it. So they decided to reverse Trump’s actions. No science, no study. One hour communication with the whole… all the people representing the commercial fisheries affected.”
Vanasse stated that the White House likely served tuna, swordfish and lobster. He believes that Golden’s outspokenness “will get the president’s attention” and that perhaps we can get the same attention from the Biden Administration that we received from Trump.
Vanasse stated that he doesn’t believe Biden has done “anything personally for the fishing industry” but has “delegated it” to his appointees.
Vanasse spoke highly of the White House’s “thumbs up” to the “Montery Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program” and Whole Foods’ blindly following Seafood Watch. He said that it was a pleasure to see them “do that” and to have them take a New England fishery and make it.
He said, “That’s exactly what the White House should be doing.” They should do more of this. It’s also a little hypocritical to continue with regulations that harm our domestic fisheries while still serving the product. They want to eat their lobster, so to speak.
Melaina Lewis (communications director at the National Fisheries Institute) praised the White House’s choice of Maine lobster for Macron’s state dinner and expressed hope that the president would increase his efforts to protect the lobster sector.
Lewis stated that Maine Lobster was the featured dish at the White House State Dinner. It is sustainable and delicious.
“It is our hope the President will share this story with his guests, and redouble efforts for the protection of the livelihoods and maintenance of the resource.”
Golden used Twitter to ask Biden to meet the lobstermen whose businesses he is currently regulating to attend the dinner.
Golden tweeted that “If the Biden White House can prioritize buying 200 Maine lobsters to be a fancy dinner,”
Biden will allow Macron, France’s first Lady Brigitte Macron, and other guests to a red, white, and blue-themed dinner. Other events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.