Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 3, 2022 and Island Ad-Vantages, November 3, 2022 and The Weekly Packet, November 3, 2022
Sen. King discusses challenges facing Maine lobster industry in October podcast
The Office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) recently released the October episode of King’s “Inside Maine” podcast, in which King and his guests discuss the current regulatory challenges facing Maine lobstermen and what the state and Congressional delegation are doing to support the industry. King was joined by Pat Kelliher, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and Curt Brown, a second-generation lobsterman and marine biologist.
Together, King and his guests lay out the implications of new proposed lobster regulations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect right whales and explain how the regulations completely miss the facts on the ground—including sustainability measures already taken by lobstermen and the lack of any whale entanglements since 2004 or deaths attributed to the fishery, according to a press release.
The Maine leaders also react to the harmful decision by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to “Red List” Maine lobster without any real scientific evidence.
“Maine lobstermen are fighting for their livelihoods. Between the possibility of harmful new federal regulations and baseless attacks from Seafood Watch, the iconic industry that supports countless coastal communities and contributes over $1 billion to our economy is facing serious challenges,” said King. “As NOAA continues to move forward with its unreasonable lobster regulations, Maine leaders like Commissioner Pat Keliher and lobsterman Curt Brown are doing vital work to debunk the faulty science behind the proposed restrictions. Together, the state and Congressional Delegation will continue to oppose unfair and unwarranted burdens on the fishery and protect Maine’s future. There are no professionals more committed to the sustainability of Maine’s fisheries than Pat and his team, nor those who work the water and want to hand off a thriving future to children. It was a privilege to have these knowledgeable leaders join Inside Maine—I’m deeply thankful for their partnership and for their work supporting Maine’s 5,600 lobstermen.”
As Commissioner of Maine’s Department of Marine Resources, Keliher is charged with conserving and developing Maine’s marine resources and coastal fishing industries, and working to advise local, state and federal officials concerning activities in coastal waters. Keliher, a native of Gardiner, previously worked as a registered Maine hunting guide and charter boat captain. He also served as executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association of Maine, the executive director of the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission and Acting Commissioner of the Marine Resources Department before being appointed to serve as Maine’s Department of Marine Resources Commissioner in 2012. He was reappointed by Gov. Janet Mills in 2019 after serving in the same role in the prior administration.
Brown is a second-generation lobsterman. A marine biologist, he graduated from the University of Maine with a master’s in marine policy in 2007, a master’s in marine biology and also holds undergraduate degrees in history and biology from Union College. He is currently a marine biologist at Ready Seafood, one of the largest wholesale lobster businesses and the largest lobster processing facility in Maine.
Brown’s main focus at Ready Seafood is “focusing on collaborative research projects that improve the sustainability and value of Maine lobster.” He is also the industry co-chair of the Seafood Economic Accelerator for Maine, an economic development administration funded initiative “bringing together industry leaders and committed partners dedicated to developing a roadmap for economic growth, workforce development,and greater resiliency in Maine’s economy.” He now lobsters with his two children—a 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.
King has strenuously opposed undue burdens that would threaten the lobster fishery without meaningfully protecting whales. Following the release of NOAA’s final Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan in late August 2021, the Maine Delegation and Mills issued a statement in opposition to the rule and highlighting the Maine lobster fishery’s record of repeatedly making significant improvements to their practices and modifications to their gear to protect right whales. He has also backed legislation that would offset costs of the proposed regulations and worked to secure $17.1 million in funding for the industry. King has also pushed back on the unsubstantiated and speculative decision by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to place Maine lobster on their seafood “Red List” and introduced a bill that would prohibit federal taxpayer funds from going to the organization.
The “Inside Maine Podcast with Senator Angus King” is a 30-minute program that aims to help keep Maine people informed about issues of the day, how they affect life in the state and how they factor into Sen. King’s work as one of two independents in the U.S. Senate. King’s podcast builds on his existing radio show that airs on Newsradio WGAN in Portland between 10 and 11 a.m. typically on the last Saturday of the month.