Illegal Seafoods

lobster in Key Largo

Lobster photo from Florida Weekly.

While this post will have more to do with wildlife than water treatment, it is a topic relevant to the environment and therefore is significant in environmental consciousness. Recently, while traveling to Maine I learned about the history of the waterfront. Native Americans and settlers lived along the Piscataqua river waterfront that serves as a harbor to the Atlantic Ocean. It later became an important location in defending the US from submarine attacks.

As we sailed farther from Maine and New Hampshire, the guide pointed out a stage 2 Sewage Treatment plant was built on the shore that releases water out using a schedule of high and low tides. He explained that it becomes an issue when the tides reverse, which happens every four hours. Treated sewage water then ends up where it started. Because of this issue, the plant is being upgraded to a stage 3 wastewater treatment center. This simple guide explains the functions of the different stages.

As a seafood fanatic, of course I had to ask about the lobster. Lobster live in the ocean but seasonally come to the coast to rest, which is about 60 feet deep. Trappers can purchase $50 hunting licenses to set up 5 traps with fish bait and return to find what they have caught. It is proven that lobsters are actually quite tricky and escape from traps or even ignore the traps with lesser quality fish. There are so many traps they can choose the most luxurious meals!

The fishermen are wise too. When they pick up the traps, they must abide by lobster laws and release small lobsters back into the Ocean so they can grow to be adults. Fishermen also recognize pregnant female lobsters by the legs or eggs they carry under them and release them so they can lay eggs. Female lobsters carry thousands of eggs, of which only one percent is said to survive.

Some fishermen cut the tail of a female lobster to mark it as their breeder. This is illegal. So is killing pregnant lobster. When the settlers first arrived, there were so many lobster on the coast that they were used as fertilizer for the fields, as well as in chowders, and for many meals. They were considered a poor man’s food as lobsters are bottom feeders. Now, the coast is nearly picked clean of lobsters. If a lobster sold to you in Maine is smaller than 1.25 lbs or greater than 1.5 lbs, it is probably not even a Maine lobster!

pregnant lobster at Robert's Grill

Lobster with eggs. Photo by me.

After the tour we went to dinner at Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery, Maine. I was very upset by what I found: A pregnant lobster! Even though it is necessary to protect female lobsters and their eggs for the sake of the ecosystem, some restaurants cut the tails to find the eggs and scoop them out to then be sold. It’s very disheartening to see this happening. It is important to realize that patience outweighs profit, for the sake of the environment.

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