No More Lobster At Restaurants In New York State?
If you love lobster, it may soon be difficult to find on menus in New York State. An influential conservation group has downgraded American lobster's rating, which may cause many retailers and restaurants to pull the delicious crustacean from their offerings.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch updated lobster rankings for September 2022. American lobster previously had a 'good alternative' rating, but now has an 'avoid rating' from the group. The primary reason for the change is due to the threat lobster trapping poses to whales.
American lobster caught in Canada with pots has been downgraded to an Avoid due to red Other Species and Management ratings. This fishery poses a risk to overfished or at-risk species, including endangered North Atlantic right whales.
Lobsters trapped in the waters of Canada and the United States are now on Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch's so-called 'red list.' That means many companies who follow the group's recommendations may pull lobster. Or lobster could become quite expensive and retailers and restaurants scale back. The recommendation could also affect New Yorkers' ability to buy lobsters in grocery stores or seafood markets. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch collaborates with many restaurants, retailers, seafood suppliers, chefs and governments, so its reach is long.
According to the Associated Press, even meal kit companies are affected by the newly released recommendation. A HelloFresh spokesperson said,
HelloFresh is committed to responsible sourcing and follows guidelines from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.
Some of the business collaborators listed on the group's website include Blue Apron, The Cheesecake Factory, Chicken of the Sea, and Whole Foods.
How Does Lobsters Trapping Threaten Whales?
A lobster pot or lobster trap is a method commonly used to catch lobsters. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is concerned about the risk it poses to rare whales,
Entanglement in fishing gear is the leading cause of serious injury and death to North Atlantic right whales. As a result, bycatch management is rated ineffective for all pot and set gillnet fisheries operating within the North Atlantic right whale’s range because current management measures do not go far enough to mitigate entanglement risks and promote recovery of the species.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommends that companies avoid all American lobster caught using pots in these areas:
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Fundy LFA)
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Lobster Fishing Area 33)
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Lobster Fishing Area 41 (Offshore))
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Lobster Fishing Areas 27-32)
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Newfoundland and Labrador LFA)
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Quebec North Shore and Anticosti Island LFA)
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence LFA)
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Southwest Nova Scotia LFA)
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (The Gaspe Peninsula LFA)
- Canada - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (The Magdalen Islands LFA)
- United States - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank fishery)
- United States - Northwest Atlantic Ocean (Southern New England fishery)
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch pushes both consumers and companies to choose environmentally sustainable seafood. While the group's recommendations are just that, it is respected by many companies that participate in the seafood industry.