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California Woman Sues Red Lobster For "Deceptive Advertising" Of "Sustainable" Maine Lobster

Mike Mozart

A southern California woman backed by a class action law firm is suing the Red Lobster restaurant chain for deceptive advertising in federal court, saying it is falsely claims lobster from Maine is a sustainable fishery that follows the highest standards.

The suit highlights a Red Lobster menu that includes a claim of "traceable," "sustainable" and "responsible." The filing says that's a false claim, since a federal judge found last year that the U.S. lobster fishery poses a threat to endangered North Atlantic right whales - a finding that led to part of Maine's lobster fishery losing certification as sustainable by the influential Marine Stewardship Council.

Marianne LaCroix, executive director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, says the suit is misguided.

"The fishermen and the state have been working to protect right whales for over 20 years now and have made great strides," LaCroix says. "The fishermen have made a lot of changes in the gear that they use and the way that they fish in order to make it safer for right whales."

A Red lobster spokesman declined comment on the suit, but in an email said that the company stands behind its "Seafood with Standards" program. A lawyer for the complainant in the case declined comment. The suit calls for red Lobster to drop its sustainability claims, and pay damages to consumers.

The suit also charges that shrimp served by Red Lobster is farmed under less-than-highest standards for animal welfare and the environment.

Click below to read the lawsuit:

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.