Republicans in Maine’s legislature say that they will bring forth proposals to respond to groups that have challenged the sustainability of Maine’s lobster industry because of what some organizations say is an entanglement threat to endangered North Atlantic right whales.
"Make no mistake, this is war," said the Republican leader of Maine’s House of Representatives, Billy Bob Faulkingham, during a media event earlier this week about the proposals.
Faulkingham is also a commercial lobster fisherman.
"We must stay united," he added.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
At the event, the lawmakers announced they would ask Maine’s attorney general to investigate Seafood Watch and the Marine Stewardship Council.
Both seafood groups have dropped their respective labels certifying New England lobster as sustainable in the past several months.
The Marine Stewardship Council's change also prompted retailers like Whole Foods Market to pause sales of New England lobster.
More on Maine lobster
The lawmakers also say they would like to take retaliatory action against those companies by passing legislation that disqualifies them and any other company that stops selling Maine lobster for similar reasons from retail tax credit programs in the state.
The legislators would also like to move forward with a proposal that would end business contracts with retailers that refuse to sell the crustacean on whale sustainability grounds.
For months, Maine lawmakers from both parties have been in a legal and political dispute with NOAA regulators and sustainability groups about whether or not there is evidence and data that proves Maine fishing gear is entangling the scarce whales.
Whether or not the Republican lawmakers' plan passes is a bit of an open question because Democrats control the senate, house and governor’s office in Maine.
A request for comment from the office of Gov. Janet Mills was not immediately returned on Friday.
A spokesperson for Maine’s Senate President Troy Jackson said he "looks forward to seeing" the GOP legislation and "is supportive of doing whatever we can to protect the livelihoods of Maine lobstermen."
Jackson also sponsored a resolution in Maine’s legislature that was adopted on Wednesday titled "Joint Resolution Expressing the Outrage of the Maine Legislature Regarding the Decision by Whole Foods Market, Blue Apron Holdings and HelloFresh Group to Discontinue Selling Maine Lobster."
A request for comment sent to Whole Foods Market on Friday also did not receive an immediate reply.