ROCKLAND, Maine — Local law enforcement leaders say they will review a complaint filed by an animal rights group which wants criminal charges to be filed against Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster company over its processing of the seafood.
District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau and Rockland police Chief Bruce Boucher both said Thursday they had received the complaint filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Boucher said he is in consultation with the district attorney on how to proceed with the matter.
Rushlau said he would need to review the complaint before determining whether to take action or not.
The veteran prosecutor noted this would be the first time in his career that he has received an animal cruelty complaint involving lobsters or any type of seafood.
He pointed out that the animal cruelty statute in Maine covers all “sentient” animals. Random House Webster’s College Dictionary defines sentient as “having the power of perception by the senses; conscious” and “characterized by sensation and consciousness.”
Attorney Stephen Hayes, who represents Linda Bean, said the claims by PETA were groundless. He said he does not consider a lobster to be a sentient animal.
Bean’s processing plant in Rockland meets or exceeds all industry and government regulations and standards, Hayes said. He said the process used at the Rockland plant is nearly identical to those in all Maine and Canadian plants.
Bean is proud of being part of a Maine heritage that goes back hundreds of years, her attorney said. He claimed that PETA was being hypocritical in saying it wants a more humane way to kill lobsters when its goal is to stop all animals from being used for food.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association also have criticized PETA’s attack on Bean’s processing plant.
PETA held a news conference Tuesday when it unveiled a video that the organization said had been taken by an operative who obtained a full-time job at the plant and wore a camera to obtain the footage. PETA claims the methods used at the plant are illegal because they tear sensitive animals apart while they’re alive and fully conscious. PETA also claimed that the treatment of crabs at the plant was cruel.