News Feature

The Island
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 29, 2022 and The Weekly Packet, September 29, 2022
Wearing red and rallying for lobster fishermen
‘Don’t Tread on Maine Lobster’

Deer Isle-Stonington High School students wear red

Deer Isle-Stonington High School students wear red on Friday, September 23, to show their support for lobstermen. Students throughout Maine wore red that day, but lobstering is especially important to our community. the island’s fishermen include students, their parents, school staff, family, friends and neighbors.

Photo courtesy of Deer Isle-Stonington High School

by Leslie Landrigan

Schoolchildren all over Maine wore red on Friday, September 23, to show support for lobster fishermen even as rallies were planned in Portland and in Stonington for October.

In Deer Isle, both high school and elementary school students wore red, according to Moriah Nutter, the high school’s administrative assistant. Many people wore red throughout the island towns. Spencer Insurance in Deer Isle posted signs in its window, “WEAR RED, 9/23.”

The Maine Lobstering Union is planning a Portland rally to support lobstermen on October 12, and local fishing families are working on a rally/fundraiser on Stonington’s Fish Pier on October 30.

The activism is a response to Federal District Court Judge James Boasberg’s ruling on September 8. He upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service’s most recent rules to protect the endangered right whale. Boasberg also ordered the lobster industry and government regulators to propose stricter rules by the end of October. Local fishermen fear draconian measures that will all but wipe out the offshore lobster fishery.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association has announced it is appealing Boasberg’s ruling.

Don’t tread on Maine lobster

The campaign to wear red on Friday began somewhere on social media, according to Ginny Olsen, political liaison for the Maine Lobstering Union.

“It really took off,” Olsen said in a phone interview. She said she circulated the post to some students she knew, and Deer Isle resident Marie Hutchinson started a Facebook page promoting red on Friday.

Olsen said the MLU is working on plans for the Portland rally, which will take place on Commercial Street in DeMillo’s parking lot. Ray Richardson, a radio personality from Portland, is working with MLU on the rally. Guests who have accepted invitations include former Gov. Paul LePage, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, State Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham and Jason Joyce, candidate for state representative.

But, said Olsen, “it’s more about the fishermen than the elected representatives.” The slogan for the rally is, “Don’t Tread on Maine Lobster.”

The Stonington rally/fundraiser on Sunday, October 30, is being organized by Jill Larabee, Richard Larrabee Jr., Lynn Betts, Melissa Jones-Bayley and Mike Billings, Jill Larabee said in a phone interview.

“Things are really just coming together fluidly,” Larrabee said.

Four bands will play during the event—3 Mile Line, Along for the Ride, The Returnables and an ad hoc group of local musicians. Politicians will deliver speeches throughout the morning, she said. Larrabee is currently reaching out for speakers.