A Democratic lawmaker is pushing back on President Biden’s pompous White House celebration, where 200 live lobsters will be served for guests Thursday during a state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The night before the dinner, where guests are expected to enjoy lobster and caviar, Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, 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.
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Golden’s tweet is his latest call on Biden to uphold his promises to protect Maine’s lobster industry, especially amid a new dispute with whale conservationists.
The Maine lawmaker released a statement in October saying Biden broke his promise to Maine lobstermen.
“In 2020, while running for president, Biden pledged ‘I will work to protect the livelihood and safety of the fishing community’ in reference to lobstermen. He has yet to take a single action to make good on that pledge,” Golden said.
“You cannot espouse being a president for working people while simultaneously overseeing the destruction of an entire blue-collar fishery and its community’s heritage and way of life,” he added. “I implore you to recognize and oppose these proposed right whale conservation measures and to meet with Maine’s congressional delegation as well as leaders of the lobster community to find common sense solutions to ensure that Maine’s lobster and fishing industries and the right whales will survive for generations.”
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The ongoing lobster debate with conservationists was spurred by reports Maine’s lobster industry poses a threat to rare whales, which can become entangled in fishing gear. The Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch recently pulled their lobster endorsements over these concerns.
Executive chef Cris Comerford and executive pastry chef Susie Morrison present the dishes on the menu of the state dinner for the president of France at the White House on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.
(Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Entanglement in gear is one of the biggest threats to a native whale species, of which there are only about 340 in the world, they said.
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Last month, Whole Foods announced that it would stop carrying Maine lobsters at hundreds of its stores around the country due to these environmentalist concerns.
Maine’s politicians, including Golden, Gov. Janet Mills, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree denounced the decision.
“We are disappointed by Whole Foods’ decision and deeply frustrated that the Marine Stewardship Council’s suspension of the lobster industry’s certificate of sustainability continues to harm the livelihoods of hardworking men and women up and down Maine’s coast,” the statement reads.
A normal looking lobster next to a bright orange lobster that was caught while fishing in deepwater canyons in the Gulf of Maine, July 22, 2015.
(Gabe Souza/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Prior to the controversy, Maine’s lobster industry saw a boom of success in 2021, when the Department of Marine Resources announced its lobster harvest was the most valuable in its history.
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“The extraordinary value earned last year by Maine lobster harvesters is a clear reflection of strong consumer confidence in the Maine lobster brand and the products and people it represents,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher.
He continued, “Last year was one for the books, and it should be celebrated. But there are many challenges ahead, and it’s important that fishermen remain engaged in management discussions that will strive to make this stock resilient for future generations.”
The 2021 harvest saw a 75% increase in value over the 2020 total, the DMR said.
The day before the White House dinner, first lady Jill Biden called the meal an “expression of welcome and friendship [and] a way to connect through a language that sort of transcends words.”
“We are so glad to welcome them to the White House as the first couple of our oldest ally, France,” she said.
“As each dish comes to the table, so too does the meaning behind it,” Biden continued. “The design of this dinner was inspired by the shared colors of our flags, red, white and blue, and our common values liberty and democracy, equality and fellowship.”
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“These form the bedrock upon which are enduring friendship was built on the tables are vivid red roses and blue Delphiniums alongside white irises, which are the symbols of our nation’s capital and of France,” she also said. “From images on the pavilion walls to the chandeliers that will hang above us, to the dishes and displays on the tables are symbols and celebrations of the many ties that bind our nation together.”
She also said the meal included a cheese course, including Roe River Blue, which won a 2019 World Cheese Award.
A place setting at the White House on Nov. 30, 2022.
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
The White House meal was prepared by White House executive chef Cris Comerford and White House executive pastry chef Susie Morrison.
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Golden most recently won re-election in a key contest in 2022 against former Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin. He also beat Republican Dale Crafts in 2020, and first entered office by defeating Poliquin, the then-incumbent, in 2018.
Fox News’ Yael Halon contributed to this report.