Sen. Vitelli issues statement in support of Maine’s lobster industry, applauds advocacy by Maine’s federal delegation

Posted: January 06, 2021 | Senator Vitelli

AUGUSTA — Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, released a statement on Wednesday in support of Maine’s lobster industry and applauding Maine’s federal delegation for their advocacy. On Tuesday, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration urging rule changes that would make it easier for live lobsters to be transported to market.

“I’m glad to see Maine’s U.S. senators and representatives advocating for our lobster industry on the federal level,” Sen. Vitelli said. “Lobstering is a big part of Maine’s economy and heritage, and we’re known for our quality product around the world. Helping get lobsters from harbor to market in a safe and timely manner is essential to the survival of this industry, which has seen hard times in recent years. I’m grateful that our federal representatives are able to take action on this issue, where state power is limited.”

If adopted, the recommended rule change would ensure that lobster and other live shellfish are included in the definition of livestock, which currently includes live fish, cattle, swine, poultry and other living creatures. Livestock and other agricultural commodities like broccoli and potatoes are exempt from hours-of-service limitations typically imposed on drivers. This would allow lobsters to reach key markets, such as Boston and New York, in a timely manner by eliminating the requirement for drivers to take long breaks, a long-standing practice for agricultural commodities.

Sen. Vitelli sponsored a bill last legislative session, LD 1987, “Resolve, To Exempt Truck Drivers Transporting Live Lobsters from Certain Hours-of-service Restrictions,” that aimed to solve this problem at a state level. Because federal regulations preempt state law and were found to be in conflict with the bill, the Transportation Committee voted unanimously to write a letter to Maine’s federal delegation urging them to advocate for changes to the federal rules.

You can read the delegation’s letter here.