Here's Why Finding Maine Red Lobster Is Getting Difficult

Maine lobster has been gracing the plate of hungry seafood-loving Americans since the state's lobster trap industry surfaced around the 1850s (via Maine An Encyclopedia). However, finding these live crustaceans in grocery stores and purchasing them for your next lobster bake may be more difficult in the near future due to reports from two organizations. Indeed, the Seafood Watch of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) have both recently warned against fishing for lobster because of the potential effect on North Atlantic right whales.

Seafood Watch placed Maine lobster on its "red" list, urging fishermen to "avoid" them or "find an alternative" catch in the areas of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. The region has also had its "MSC certificate suspended," which upon effect will remove the lobster's sustainability status. This change in status has happened because of the change in migration patterns of right whales (which are an endangered species — there are only 340 of these creatures left) and the possibility of them becoming entangled in lobstering equipment.

Whole Foods will stop selling Maine lobster, but not without push back

According to the AP, one store where you'll soon likely find the lobster tanks near-empty is Whole Foods, which has said stocking and sales of Gulf of Maine-sourced lobster will cease due to the recent reports by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Marine Stewardship Council. As AllRecipes states, "the supermarket has a commitment to responsible sourcing and until Maine lobster is MSC-certified or has a yellow Seafood Watch rating, it doesn't meet Whole Foods' standards." However, the article also points out that Whole Foods will continue to sell lobster obtained from Canada and that a spokesperson said the store is "closely monitoring this situation." There is no word yet as to whether other supermarkets or grocery stores will follow suit.

The situation hasn't occurred without controversy, as many Maine lobstermen feel these rulings are an unfair threat to their businesses and way of life. The government has even stepped in with attempts to protect the lobstermen, with the governor, two senators, and two representatives writing a letter claiming there is "little to no evidence of right whale entanglements," among other disputed facts, and that the ruling will significantly hurt lobstermen (via Senator Susan Collins' website). One of these lobstermen is Jason Lorde, who appeared on Fox News in late November. "I think Whole Foods maybe should have done a little more homework," he told the news outlet.