Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) criticized the Biden administration Wednesday for ordering 200 lobsters from Maine for the White House state dinner after the administration imposed burdensome regulations on the lobster industry.
Golden, a centrist Democrat who represents Maine’s rural red-leaning Second District, said in response to the White House’s menu announcement that Biden should meet with lobstermen in Maine, whom the administration is, according to Golden, “currently regulating out of business.”
“If the Biden White House can prioritize purchasing 200 Maine lobsters for a fancy dinner, @POTUS should also take the time to meet with the Maine lobstermen his administration is currently regulating out of business,” Golden stated.
If the Biden White House can prioritize purchasing 200 Maine lobsters for a fancy dinner, @POTUS should also take the time to meet with the Maine lobstermen his administration is currently regulating out of business. https://t.co/PLiGGopsid
— Congressman Jared Golden (@RepGolden) December 1, 2022
White House executive chefs on Wednesday presented the menu for the upcoming state dinner, a typically lavish and traditional presidential affair with a visiting head of state. Biden’s state dinner, taking place Thursday evening, is the first for Biden as president and will feature French President Emmanuel Macron.
Executive chef Cristeta Comerford said of the lobster on the dinner menu, “We want to honor as well our lobstermen from Maine who really have to work pretty hard because they had to ship 200 live lobsters to us yesterday morning to get it to this point.”
White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Susan Morrison preview the menu for Thursday's State Dinner. pic.twitter.com/SsObzA2DtQ
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 30, 2022
Lobster fishing has long been a lucrative industry in Maine, but workers have faced recent challenges from the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service, which has implemented regulations on lobster fishing, such as rope limitations and seasonal closures.
The agency, as well as activist groups like the federally funded and influential Seafood Watch, say the regulations are part of a plan to protect endangered right whales.
However, Golden, along with the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation and Gov. Janet Mills (D), have been vocal about their objections to the regulations. Mills noted in a statement in September that not a single right whale death has been attributed to Maine’s lobster fishery and that no entanglement incidents have occurred in the past 18 years.
“Generations of Maine lobstermen have worked hard to protect the sustainability of the lobster fishery, and they have taken unprecedented steps to protect right whales – efforts that the Federal government and now Seafood Watch have failed to recognize,” Mills wrote. “No right whale death has been attributed to Maine gear, and there has not been a right whale entanglement attributed to Maine lobster gear in eighteen years.”
Whole Foods announced in November it would stop selling Maine lobster at the urging of activist groups, which outraged Maine’s politicians.
The congressional delegation and Mills responded to the move in a joint statement, saying retailers have “wrongly and blindly decided to follow the recommendations of misguided environmental groups rather than science.”