STATE HOUSE – On Tuesday, Maine Legislative Republicans held a press conference at Hallowell Seafood & Produce to discuss the efforts by outside environmental groups to destroy the State’s beleaguered lobster industry.

Senate Republican Leader-elect Sen. Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook, and House Republican Leader-elect Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, were joined by Maine lobstermen and fellow legislators as they told reporters the pair submitted legislation prohibiting any business from participating in the state’s Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement and Business Equipment Tax Exemption Programs that, based on third-party certifications, bans, boycotts or otherwise prevents or restricts the sale or distribution of any Maine-based goods that are legally harvested, grown or produced.

One such retailer that has banned the sale of Maine Lobster based on third-party certifications is Whole Foods in Portland.

“This is a war. It is not just about lobster fishing – it is a war on workers, family values, conservation, science and common sense,” said Faulkingham. “It is going to take all of us standing together combined with many others throughout Maine to preserve the ability of lobster fishing families to earn a living, conserve the resource, and create jobs for thousands of Mainers.”

In addition to the loss of the tax programs, the legislation will also ban the state from any contracts with such businesses. Stewart said they would also work with legislators from other New England states to encourage them to take action as well as investigate whether something else was behind the environmental groups’ actions.

“We will also be asking the Attorney General to investigate the Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch to see who they are funded by, what foreign governments are involved in their groups and what benefits result from their partners by singling-out Maine’s lobster industry,” said Stewart. “This group makes almost 90% of their funding by selling their logo and we’d like to know what, if any, impact their decision had on their funding streams.”

“An attack on the Maine lobster industry is an attack on all of Maine,” he added.

Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, who was recently elected Maine House Republican Leader, is a commercial lobster fisherman. In the past, he has been an outspoken representative of Maine’s lobster fishing families. His efforts include bringing together 151 Republican, Democratic and Independent state legislators from across Maine in support of Maine’s lobster fishing industry.  

Senator Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook, is serving his second term in the Maine Senate representing the constituents of District 2. He was recently elected as the Senate Republican Leader for the Caucus and has served as the Senate Republican Lead for the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee and the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee.

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