ELLSWORTH — The Hancock County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to pursue a complaint against Maine Fair Trade Lobster in Prospect Harbor filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“Mr. [District Attorney Matt] Foster concluded that a precedent from 2013 in District 6 (Knox County), where a nearly identical claim was made by PETA against another lobster processing facility using the same, or similar processing methods as Maine Fair Trade Lobster currently uses, supported the decision not to prosecute,” read the press release.
PETA filed the complaint on Dec. 12, alleging that “Maine Fair Trade Lobster mutilates and tortures lobsters, and kills lobsters by methods that do not cause instantaneous death, as required by Maine’s Cruelty to Animals statute.”
An accompanying video, which included footage PETA said was taken inside Maine Fair Trade Lobster edited together with footage from other lobster processing facilities, was uploaded to the animal rights group’s website.
The footage showed lobsters being dismembered, with various sections of the crustaceans, including the legs, antennae and tails still showing signs of movement.
The District Attorney’s Office noted that there was not conclusive scientific evidence regarding the sentience of lobsters, exempting them from Maine’s animal cruelty statutes.
An investigation by the District Attorney’s Office also found that Maine Fair Trade Lobster’s activities were overseen by the Department of Marine Resources and the Department of Agriculture, and that no deficiencies or concerns had come up.
The press release also stated that the District Attorney’s Office takes animal cruelty very seriously, and commended PETA’s “continuing dedication to fighting for the rights of all creatures, but in this case the conduct does not qualify under the statutes for prosecution.”