In San Francisco, a group of activists, disguised as lobsters, presented a petition with over 20,000 signatures to Costco, urging the retail giant to discontinue the sale of lobster products lacking sustainability certification. The protesters, clad in lobster costumes, passionately advocated for the protection of endangered whales, showcasing large whale plushies entangled in simulated fishing ropes. Several customers recorded the demonstration on their phones and engaged in discussions about lobsters and whale conservation.
Despite Costco's commitment to sustainable products, the company is under scrutiny for selling American lobster without certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Ben Grundy, oceans campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, emphasized the urgent need for Costco to halt the sale of uncertified American lobster, citing the serious risk of whales getting fatally entangled in the extensive network of seafood traps and ropes.
The Gulf of Maine lobster fishery faced a setback in December when its MSC sustainability certification was suspended due to violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. The fishery deploys millions of traps with vertical fishing lines annually to catch American lobster, posing a significant threat to marine life in critical whale habitats.
Seafood Watch, an advisory group promoting sustainable seafood practices, added American lobster to its "red list" of seafood to avoid in September 2022. Following this designation, Whole Foods made the decision to cease the sale of Gulf of Maine lobster. Seafood Watch, operated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, continues to play a crucial role in guiding consumers toward environmentally responsible choices.
The article underscores the persistent danger of entanglement in fishing gear to endangered whales along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Whales facing entanglement risk immediate drowning or prolonged suffering from injuries, infections, or starvation.
As part of their ongoing efforts, activists, captured in a photo by Drew Bird, urged Costco to prioritize sustainability by ceasing the sale of American lobster lacking certification. The Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit conservation organization with over 1.7 million members, remains committed to safeguarding endangered species and preserving wild places.
Source: Biological Diversity (Dec 13, 2023). Activists Tell Costco: Lobster Products Pose Risk to Endangered Whales. https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/activists-tell-costco-lobster-products-pose-risk-to-endangered-whales-2023-12-13/
Picture by: Drew Bird Photo, drewbirdphoto.com