A southern California woman backed by a class-action law firm is suing the Red Lobster restaurant chain for deceptive advertising in federal court, saying it falsely claims lobster from Maine is a sustainable fishery that follows the highest standards.
The suit highlights a Red Lobster menu that includes a claim of “traceable,” “sustainable” and “responsible.” The filing called that a false claim, because a federal judge found last year that the U.S. lobster fishery poses a threat to endangered North Atlantic right whales — a finding that led to part of Maine’s lobster fishery losing certification as sustainable by the influential Marine Stewardship Council.
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Marianne LaCroix, executive director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, said the suit is misguided.
“The fishermen and the state have been working to protect right whales for over 20 years now and have made great strides,” LaCroix said. “The fishermen have made a lot of changes in the gear that they use and the way that they fish in order to make it safer for right whales.”
A Red lobster spokesperson declined comment on the suit, but in an email said that the company stands behind its “Seafood with Standards” program. A lawyer for the complainant in the case declined comment. The suit called for Red Lobster to drop its sustainability claims, and pay damages to consumers.
The suit also charged that shrimp served by Red Lobster is farmed under less-than-highest standards for animal welfare and the environment.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.