Opinion

Celebrating Maine’s favorite crustacean

If you ever see a photo of me working in Washington, take a close look at my tie; there’s a good chance you’ll see it’s decorated by some Maine lobsters.

As nice as those ties are, anyone from Maine knows they are more than just a fashion statement.  Lobsters are a force that have powered coastal communities for generations and continue to play a major role in our state’s economy.  Thousands of Maine families draw their livelihoods from the industry; in 2016 alone, lobster hauls in Maine brought in $533 million to our state.

That’s a big number — more than half a billion dollars — but the truth is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maine’s lobsters have truly put our state on the culinary map. Their importance to the international community is so strong that they’re shipped all over the world, which has helped establish Maine as a major figure in the global seafood market.

To top it all off, it’s difficult to overstate this crustacean’s importance to our tourism economy. Every summer, the promise of a lobster fresh from the trap is a key reason millions of tourists claw their way to Maine. These visitors provide a major boon to surrounding businesses and communities, giving us a chance to show off all of the other incredible things that happen here every day.

With all of these impacts, it’s pretty clear that Maine lobsters are on a roll. That is why I was so proud when the U.S. Senate designated Monday, Sept. 25, as National Lobster Day. A catch this vital to our heritage and local economy deserves to be celebrated — along with all of the hardworking men and women who make this success possible every day by catching lobster along our shores. To all of those who have helped this shellfish improve the quality of life in the state of Maine, I say: thank you.

For my part, I’m working to grow the lobster industry, in any way I can. For one, I recently introduced the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act, which will help promote American exports like our famous lobster. Additionally, last week I sent a letter to the Unicode Consortium (also known as the people who make emojis), advocating for the inclusion of a lobster icon in the organization’s next character update.

Of course, I would never equate an emoji with trade policy – but who knows? Our little emoji could catch on, and turn the next generation of lobster lovers into Maine’s future visitors.

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