In late November 2022, Whole Foods decided to pull Maine lobster from its shelves. The company announced that it will stop selling lobster sourced from the Gulf of Maine. The decision comes after two organizations – the Marine Stewardship Council and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch – reported concerns about lobster’s sustainability.
In particular, the organizations cited lobster fishing as a potential risk to the North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered ocean mammal. These whales consistently become entangled in fishing gear, which can cause death. The MSC and Seafood Watch have cautioned consumers against buying lobster sourced in American and Canadian waters.
Maine political leaders criticized these reports and the Whole Foods decision, citing the financial devastation likely to occur in the fallout. They have also argued that no right whale has died due to Maine lobster gear.
Governor of Maine Janet Mills wrote in a statement that “there has never been a right whale death attributed to Maine lobster fear.” The lobstering community, she says, has consistently demonstrated their commitment to right whale protection. Lawmakers are appealing the organizations’ decisions to revoke their sustainability labels.
Can You Still Buy Lobster Sustainably?
What does this mean for shoppers who want to buy sustainable seafood? If you’re still looking forward to live Maine lobster for Christmas Eve dinner, you can certainly still make that purchase. Working with providers who are transparent about sourcing practices can ensure you get a sustainable meal.
For those feeling a bit tricky about the decision, consider buying other lobster products, like tails, claws, and meat. In general, frozen seafood is a lot more sustainable than never-frozen options, like live lobster.
Where to Buy Maine Lobster in the Meantime
The Whole Foods decision is likely to cause other grocery chains to pull lobster from their counters. If this happens, shoppers around the country will have trouble sourcing high-quality lobster for holiday meals. To ensure you get the seafood you want, we recommend ordering online. Working directly with a provider, rather than a retailer, will ensure you have your items when you need them.
If you’re looking for reputable providers, we can help. Below is a list of our favorite lobster providers. Consider them for your holiday purchase – whether you want live lobster, tails, meat, or claws.
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