Celebrated Wiscasset seafood shack Red’s Eats has joined the fray over federal regulations of the lobstering industry, raising money for the Maine Lobstermen’s Association as it fights rules aimed at protecting right whales that critics say will harm the lobster industry.

Debbie Gagnon, one of Red’s Eats owners, holds one of their famous lobster rolls outside of the business earlier this year. Maria Skillings / Times Record file photo

Red’s Eats hopes other restaurants in the state follow suit.

“There are so many restaurants, large and small, that serve delicious Maine lobster in many amazing ways all because of the hardworking lobstermen and women who are out on the water, hauling traps and supplying this healthy, sustainable product,” said Red’s Eats owner Debbie Gagnon in a news release. “I want to pay it forward and am delighted to be working to encourage others to help the MLA in its efforts to preserve Maine’s lobstering heritage for generations to come.”

Over the past two years, Maine’s lobstering industry has been fighting new federal rules and regulations implemented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

In addition to new gear requirements, the administration closed off over 950 square miles of the Gulf of Maine to traditional lobstering from October to January — New England’s most lucrative lobstering season.

Lobstermen met a new hurdle this week when Maine lobster was placed on a “red list,” alerting consumers that the seafood may have been harvested in a way that is potentially harmful to endangered wildlife and discouraging environmentally conscious consumers from buying the products.


While the Maine Lobstering Association acknowledges the NOAA’s intent to protect the endangered right whale, it believes the current plan will “decimate the lobster industry,” according to an MLA press release.

The fall fundraiser, Save Maine Lobstermen, runs until Oct. 1 with two challenges, the hard-shell challenge and the soft-shell challenge.

The hard-shell challenge offers those donating $2,500 a free #SaveMaineLobstermen donor sweatshirt and a free dinner for two at Red’s Eats, while the soft-shell challenge offers those donating $1,000 a free donor sweatshirt.

“No one can imagine Maine without lobster,” said Kevin Kelley, director of advancement at the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. “It is the symbol of our state, and we are grateful to work with Red’s to encourage everyone who cares about the future of the industry to step up and help by contributing to MLA’s Save Maine Lobstermen campaign. It truly is an investment in the future of Maine’s economy.”

For more information or to donate online, visit savemainelobstermen.org.

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