A pedestrian crosses in front of J’s Oyster on Portland Pier on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

A Portland seafood restaurant and several national companies are correcting misinformation circulating in the wake of the announcement by Seafood Watch that it was red-listing American lobster because of the risk lobster gear poses to endangered North Atlantic right whales.

Shortly after the announcement, national news outlets reported that meal kit delivery services Blue Apron and Hello Fresh pulled lobster from their menus. Calls to boycott those companies began circulating on social media in response to the red-listing by Seafood Watch, a seafood sustainability project of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

However, a spokesperson for Blue Apron says the company did not pull lobster from its meal kits because of the red-listing.

“The lobster on (Blue Apron’s) menu was a limited seasonal box that was no longer available for purchase prior to the report,” the spokesperson said in an email Tuesday. “It was not removed as a response to the red-listing.”

J’s Oyster in Portland also clarified a social media post it made over the weekend calling for a boycott of Whole Foods Market, acknowledging on Monday that it knew the upscale grocery chain had banned live lobster sales over a decade ago and not in response to the red-listing.

In a Facebook post, J’s Oyster said that it was aware that it was an old decision but opted to keep the post up to generate discussion.


“We realized early on that the Whole Foods article that was circulating was an older story. We decided to leave the post up because it generated discussion about the lobster industry today. Whole Foods will not carry live lobsters in any stores except the Portland Maine store.”

A Whole Foods spokesperson said that its Portland store, the only Whole Foods in Maine, is the only one of its 513 locations that sells live lobster, because its harvesting in the Gulf of Maine fishery meets sustainability standards of the Marine Stewardship Council.

“Keep on supporting our lobster industry,” J’s Oyster said in its post. “Maybe this will make Whole Foods start carrying lobsters in all their stores!!!”

By Tuesday afternoon the post had generated over 160 reactions, some accusing J’s Oyster of creating confusion about the red-listing.

“Supporting the lobster industry is incredibly crucial to Maine’s economy and livelihoods – also, too, limiting the spread of misinformation is important as well,” Ally Holland posted on Facebook.

Another user, Bud Philbrick, wrote in a post, “While I support all Maine fisheries, it’s posts like yours spreading bad information that cause so many problems.”

J’s Oyster did not return a call Tuesday night seeking an interview.

The J’s Oyster post is among a variety of strong reactions to Seafood Watch’s red-listing. Maine lobstermen, trade groups, restaurants, the state’s congressional delegation, the governor and others have spoken out against the listing, pointing out that no right whale deaths or serious injury have been attributed to Maine lobster gear.


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