U.S. diplomacy is trumping environmental activism today when it comes to Maine lobster, with 200 of the Pine State’s signature seafood on the Thursday dinner menu for French president Emmanuel Macron’s visit with President Biden.

News reports on the menu for dinner at the White House described butter-poached Maine lobster as the opener before beef with shallot marmalade and triple-cooked butter potatoes.

The Biden’s kitchen staff order comes after weeks of the Maine lobster industry being bombarded by activist campaigns to push it out of markets. It heated up with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch move in September to impose a “red list” recommendation against consumers buying Northeast lobster, over concerns about endangered right whales and fishing gear entanglement danger.

Lobstermen, fishing advocates and Maine political leaders have pushed back hard on that criticism, and industry sources report little major impact in the market so far – despite some high-profile moves like Whole Foods saying it would discontinue its limited offerings of Northeast lobster.

The industry is getting some respite after the latest federal court opinion that allows for two years before mandating adoption of new National Marine Fisheries Service lobster gear restrictions to increase right whale protection.

The White House menu plan might seem like another break, but Maine politicians want to see more. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that if Biden can treat guests to lobster, he “should also take the time to meet with the Maine lobstermen his administration is currently regulating out of business.”


Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

Join the Conversation