Lobster and crab harvesters push back against 'red list' meant to help right whales

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Canadian lobster and crab harvesters say the recent addition of crustaceans to a so-called "red list" of seafood to avoid is disappointing.

The harvesters are reacting to a report by California-based Seafood Watch, which says the lobster and crab fishing industries are a menace to the endangered North Atlantic right whale because the whales are getting entangled in fishing gear.

But Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada, says the red listing does not take into account the "significant efforts" being made by Canadian lobster harvesters to avoid entanglements with the fewer than 340 right whales left in existence.

Jason Spingle, secretary treasurer of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, says Seafood Watch's report is based on "unfounded information," adding that the hundreds of fishers he has spoken with have not seen a right whale in their fishing zones.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is also pushing back against the report, saying that it is unwarranted and irresponsible for the group to put the snow crab and lobster harvested in the province on a red list.

Seafood Watch is a program owned and operated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, which produces ratings, recommendations and research to companies that purchase seafood.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press