FIRST ON FOX: A pair of fish and seafood associations weighed in on President Biden’s upcoming lavish lobster dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Biden faced backlash on Twitter on Wednesday night from Democratic Maine Rep. Jared Golden over his upcoming Thursday seafood dinner with Macron featuring Maine lobster.
Golden criticized the president for not meeting with Maine lobstermen after promising to protect the seafood industry in office.
Bob Vanasse, executive director of Saving Seafood, commended Golden for calling out Biden on the issue and said that his organization has had trouble meeting with the current administration.
Vanasse said that it’s not just lobster, but other seafood industries like tuna and swordfish, are having issues meeting with the White House.
‘I applaud the congressman for calling out the administration’s hypocrisy when it comes to our domestic fisheries and their policies,’ Vanasse said.
‘This is not the first time that something like this has happened, but it is good to see, and particularly a Democrat pointing it out because this administration has frankly not been friendly or helpful to our domestic fishing industry,’ he continued.
Vanasse said ‘the most egregious example of that was last summer with regard to the Atlantic Marine Monument, which President Obama created with very little scientific backing using the Antiquities Act.’ He noted that the monument move prevents tuna, lobster and swordfish fishing and that America’s ‘sustainable red crab industry is being kicked out of that area,’ as well.
‘We spent three years working with the Trump administration to reverse President Obama’s ban on commercial fishing in that area,’ Vanasse said. ‘And they did a very diligent job of looking at science before they agreed to remove the ban and allow our fishermen in that area.’
Vanasse said that the Biden administration has not followed through on its policymaking with science over politics, and that when they ‘were fighting for our offshore lobster industry, our red crab industry, our fishermen and our tuna fishermen’ last summer, they ‘got one hour to defend the industry with staff at the Department of the Interior before there was even a Senate-confirmed secretary in place.’
He said that on Columbus Day last year, the Biden administration cut off their ‘fishermen’s right to fish for lobster, crab, swordfish and tuna’ in the Bears Ears National Monument, adding that ‘this administration has been very much in bed with the more extreme environmentalists.’
‘And I mean, with regard to the monument, it’s not surprising because the champion of the monument in the Obama administration was Monica Medina, and she’s married to Ron Klain, who’s the White House chief of staff,’ said Vanasse. ‘So when we were fighting for those fisheries, we couldn’t get any Democrats to stand up to the White House. Basically, they just told us that they had tried. They called [the Department of the Interior], they called the White House. They were essentially told that there was no way, because if Trump did it, it had to be bad, and so they were going to reverse what Trump did. No science, no study. One hour of communication with the entire… with all of the people who represent those commercial fisheries that were affected.’
Vanasse said that the White House has likely served tuna and swordfish in addition to lobster, and he thinks Golden’s speaking out ‘will actually get the president’s attention and perhaps maybe we can actually get the kind of attention from the Biden administration that we were able to get from the Trump administration and not have our fishermen be treated as second-class citizens.’
Vanasse said he does not believe Biden ‘has personally done much of anything for the fishing industry’ and has ‘delegated it to appointees in his administration.’
Regarding the dinner, Vanasse praised the White House for ‘thumbing their nose’ at ‘the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and at Whole Foods for blindly following Seafood Watch’ and that he was ‘delighted to see them do that and for them to take a New England domestic fishery and serve it.’
He continued, ‘That’s what the White House should do. They should be doing this more. But it’s a bit hypocritical at the same time to be moving forward with regulations that are harming our domestic fisheries and also serving the product. You know, they’re trying to have their lobster and eat it, too, so to speak.’
Melaina Lewis, communications director for the National Fisheries Institute, praised the White House for featuring Maine lobster as the ‘marquee dish’ for his state dinner with Macron and said she hoped the president will increase his efforts to protect the lobster industry.
‘Featuring Maine Lobster as the marquee dish during a State Dinner at the White House sends a message that it is one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world, not to mention delicious,’ Lewis said.
‘It is our hope that the President will share the story of this iconic fishery with his guests and redouble efforts to protect the livelihoods of the men and women who harvest and maintain the resource.’
The night before the dinner, where guests are expected to enjoy lobster and caviar, Golden took to Twitter to urge Biden to meet with the lobstermen his administration is ‘currently regulating out of business.’
‘If the Biden White House can prioritize purchasing 200 Maine lobsters for a fancy dinner, [Biden] should also take the time to meet with the Maine lobstermen his administration is currently regulating out of business,’ Golden said in a tweet.
The red, white and blue-themed dinner with Macron, France’s first lady Brigitte Macron and others will be the first state visit Biden has allowed at the White House since 2021 as other events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fox News Digital’s Lawrence Richard contributed reporting.