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In "Any way you slice it" forum on September 13, 2022 at 2:03 pm

We had to dig back to “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” to find a pic of a clearly sentient lobster, but here you go!

See? Just when you thought we were going all soft and opening up a culinary forum here on WOOF, it turns out to be more political carping (no ichthyologial pun intended), but we too were surprised to discover politics at the heart of this matter! Honestly, we were simply checking out recipes on the Internet, or so we thought.

Be it ever so humble…

Since the WOOF Cave is located on the coastline of the Atlantic, we harbor a powerful appreciation of coastal cuisine–certainly including mussels, clams, oysters, and especially lobster. Fun fact: Lobster was historically deemed almost inedible in Maine, where it was so commonly available that it was fed principally to prisoners, who complained about having to eat it. Clearly, the state’s indigenous crustacean has staged a resounding comeback.

“Lobster number four, step forward and say, ‘give me the money!'”

Nowadays, Mainers, like millions of their fellow Americans, cheerfully shell out (no ichthyological pun intended) hard earned and increasingly depreciating dollars for the pleasure of cracking the claws and forking out the meaty tail sections of huge, buttery, marvelously delectable lobsters. Participating in these voluptuary rites, we would argue, is as Yankee Doodle as chowing a Big Mac–A thoroughly American repastas customary a gustatory indulgence for American diners as ingesting the proverbial slice of apple pie (possibly with ice cream)! And given the supernal bonhomie that prevails wherever lobsters are joyfully gormandized, why would anyone set about sabotaging such events? What sort of fiends could derive pleasure from quashing these celebrations of gastronomic harmony?

We didn’t know either, when we first learned of lobster wars in the news–but the answer was soon apparent–all too familiarly apparent. The answer was liberals. That;s right, gentle readers, it transpires that lobsters are not woke, or, conversely, perhaps, they are so woke that they have removed themselves from the American menu.  Thus far, in the civilized world, only Switzerland, Austria, Norway, and New Zealand have officially banned the boiling of putatively cognizant lobsters, with the United Kingdom verging on similar legislation, but these bizarre misadventures are not so safely removed from our shores as may at first be supposed.

All over the Internet one encounters bizarre assertions to the effect that cooking lobsters is either illegal or barely legal in the United States.  But none of it seems reliably reported or even rationally explained. On the one hand, much media excitement is aroused by the idea that “boiling lobsters while they are alive could be made unlawful under new proposed animal welfare laws.” Currently the American Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill only contains laws relating to animals with a backbone (literally)– but this is being reviewed by the government. In other words, “boiling lobsters while they are alive could be made illegal under newly proposed animal welfare laws.” That said, one might be forgiven for wondering why the government is concerned with such redundancies when the boiling of invertebrates has, in fact, been banned in America since 1999.  That’s right–but don’t tell anybody.

We suspect a longstanding explanation of all this confusion may well be indifference–or rather, a bygone era of benign indifference lately dragged into public awareness by a gaggle of woke humanitarians bent on ruining everyone’s dinner. In other words, until recently, nobody thought about how to cook lobsters–we just cooked them.  And almost nobody this side of PETA paused to contemplate to what extent–if any–an invertebrate crustacean might momentarily suffer pain upon being dropped in a pot.  And even today, almost nobody ponders the vagaries of the Lacey Act, or for that matter, seems to know it exists.  We feel bad letting the news out, but the Lacey Act is real!

A gaggle of woke humanitarians bent on ruining dinner.

The Lacey Act?

Colin Ley–the light bringer!

As Colin Ley (normally an expert on financial asset protection), put it in a recent column: “This is probably news to you and you may be doubting what I write. The fact is though, New Zealand banned boiling lobsters alive…back in 1999. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to legally kill a lobster in New Zealand. Perhaps a humane suffocation? That’s besides [sic] the point…the law reads that no live lobster shall be tossed into a boiling pot of water.” So, “since it is illegal to boil a live lobster in New Zealand, it is therefore illegal to boil a live lobster in the USA.”

Ridiculous, you say? Not hardly.  The New Zealand law matters in America because we passed the Lacey Act in 1900, to protect plants and wildlife.  Obviously it has not been against the law to cook a lobster in America until recently, so why is it illegal now? Because of New Zealand pioneering humane pro-invertebrate legislation to which we were immediately, though retroactively, bound.

It is, in fact, a federal crime to boil a live lobster because the Lacey Act declared it a federal crime to “possess any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law [emphasis added] or Indian tribal law.” So  Americans have been legally prohibited from boiling lobsters since a foreign law (to wit, New Zealand’s law) banned the process in 1999. If that seems preposterous, take heart. The law is real, but almost nobody knows it exists. So, shhh!

Stop that bear!

In fact, the Lacy Act is so obscure in this context that liberals are currently going to considerable lengths to pass a new (and stunningly unnecessary) law doing what Lacey already does, or at least would do, if it were better known or enforced. Fortunately, nobody in recent memory–at least in America–has been perp-walked by federal authorities for attempting to prepare a lobster dinner–but liberalism, as we know, never sleeps!  As evidence, there is much ado online reviewing contemporary efforts to ban lobster boiling, and a good deal of congratulatory verbiage aimed at the United Kingdom, where “progress” is considered visible.  “Ministers,” declares the UK Independent, “are planning to strengthen the welfare rights of crustaceans and molluscs in the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which is currently making its way through the House of Lords.”

Evidently, the House of Lords feels a certain consanguinity with clams.

Happy as a humanely cooked clam!

Boris Johnson assures a supporter of his safety.

That’s correct, gentle readers, the Ministers of Great Britain are not content to ruin lobster dinners, they are also intent on saving mollusks from agonizing deaths. A bill, which enjoyed the support of Boris Johnson (before he wound up in…well…hot water) acknowledges that crustaceans and molluscs are sentient beings and therefore must have rights.This means clams, as well as mussels, oysters, and scallops, will soon be spared boiling or steaming. Presumably, it is difficult to shoot oysters or to electrocute clams–so options are not readily apparent, but the House of Lords has nothing better to do just now, so they are saving the mollusks. Thus, the question is clearly begged, what does one do to one’s lobster (or one’s favorite gastropod, cephalopod, or bivalve) in order to cook it more compassionately?

“No exit strategy”

Charlotte and friend.

Here, we are proud to note, Maine is in the forefront of the effort to cook lobsters more lovingly…and the answer turns out to be marijuana. Esquire reports that Maine lobsters are “dying a happier death thanks to the efforts of Charlotte Gill, the owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Maine.” Charlotte, by lucky coincidence, is also a licensed medical marijuana caregiver (one of which you cannot throw a rock in Maine without hitting). Charlotte told the  Mount Desert Islander that she felt bad cooking lobsters on her premises with “no exit strategy.”

Roscoe chills out…

But when Charlotte “hotboxed” a pioneer lobster named Roscoe, exposing him to massive infusions of marijuana fumes,  “he chilled out,” and appeared to greet the boiling water with remarkable equanimity. But as perfect a solution as Charlotte’s technique might seem, it fails to satisfy the preclusions of the Lacey Act. Roscoe (like all his relatives subsequently “hotboxed” by Charlotte Gill), was nevertheless boiled to death, albeit serenely. And the law, if the Lacey Act  is properly consulted, will not abide such inhumanity to seafood.

“Like, man, can I have one more hit?”

Inspired by Gill’s efforts, scientists at the University of California San Diego; Colorado College; and the University of Washington, recreated the pot-to-pot research method, only without bringing their water to a fatal boil. Their methods produced no firm findings as to whether marijuana truly calms lobsters, or even whether lobsters feel pain in the first place. And how one might go about cooking lobsters if one’s ethical compunctions rule out boiling them, remains–well–hotly debated.

The alternatives seem sub-optimal. Swiss chefs, who are forbidden by law to boil a live lobster, are encouraged to first sedate the lobsters by electrocuting them or “stabbing them in the eyes.” (WOOF is not making this up.) Neither option strikes us as markedly less cruel than just  tossing them in the pot, but what do we know?

The perspicacious reader may, by now, feel assured that lobster law is so fraught with contradictions, hypocrisies, and internal paradoxes that the entire crusade to banish the boiling pot will surely collapse of its inherent inconsistencies. Indeed, the day may dawn when, despite all the folderol and moralistic pretense, the Lacey Act is deemed blue–a risible side-note of culinary history. But not so fast.

The anti-lobstering lobby has moved from woke to woker. Never mind the paroxysms of pain the coastal crustaceans may (or may not) suffer in the interest of humankind’s epicurean demands. All those arguments, together with everything you’ve just read, (we should have warned you in advance) are now utterly passé. That’s because you can’t eat lobsters nobody catches– and you can’t catch lobsters nobody fished for. And you can’t fish for lobsters because–guess what! We need to save the whales! (Again.)

Lobsters versus Whales: The “Red List!”

*$#^% lobster fishermen!

That’s right. Lobstering now threatens Moby Dick–well, Moby wasn’t a Right Whale, but you get the picture– and we couldn’t resist the illustration. It seems all lobstering must halt immediately or Right Whales will all get killed by lobster traps.

Never mind the fact that no record exists of a Wright Whale perishing in, near, or because of, any Maine lobsterman’s traps. Comes now the ultra-woke “fish-sustainability” activism from Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, (where the lobsters are terrible anyway).  Monterey Bay Aquarium has gone to pains to supply the country with a publication called, Seafood Watch, downgrading all lobsters taken by lobster traps to a glaring red “AVOID” status, which is Seafood Watch‘s lowest possible rating. This places lobster on the publication’s dreaded “red list.” It couldn’t be much plainer–eat a lobster, kill a whale. 

The right Right Whale–looking surprisingly unfettered.

Seafood Watch insists that 80% of right whales have been entangled in fishing gear “at least once.” But who interviewed the whales–and doesn’t this seem to suggest they are pretty good at getting away? And make no mistake, Maine’s lobstermen are furious at the injustice of the rating. First, they point out, their existing traps are so heavily regulated by State and Federal inspectors that it is virtually infeasible that any Right Whale, no matter how masochistically determined, could become prolongedly ensnared, let alone deceased.  Beyond that, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association pointed out, “Maine lobstermen have not had an interaction with Right Whales in nearly 20 years.”

Hmph! If you ask us, RED CHANNELS had a much catchier cover!

Allison Ferreira, the pecksniff from NOAA.

Allison Ferreira of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which apparently oversees the country’s fisheries, countered that just because Right Whales have not been identified in any recent interactions with lobstermen does not mean fatalities don’t occur. Pressed, however, Ferreira  admitted that of 1,600 alleged entanglement scars and incidents evaluated by New England Aquarium, only about 16 have been traced back to a fishing location, in other words 1%. Obviously, the whales just aren’t trying.

Woke, Inc…

But woke culture is undeterred.  Once the call to arms is sounded, no matter how atonally, nothing matters except virtue signaling…and the biggest virtue signalers around the globe are not the soccer moms or the callow college sophomores–they are the corporations whose greatest fear is earning the enmity of the elite Left.

Save the arugula!

Humanitarians of the Left, rejoice! You have nothing to lose but your lobsters–and we know, most of you stick to tofu and arugula anyway. But now there’s more good news on the feel-good front…


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