On August 22, there was a huge car crash on the highway in Brunswick, Maine. A truck carrying thousands of live lobsters likely hydroplaned and overturned, and as a result, the live lobsters spilled out onto the highway. The truck belonged to Cozy Harbor Seafood of Portland. They sent out a truck to salvage the lobsters but found that they were no longer marketable because they had been exposed to freshwater from the rain and had gone too long without refrigeration.
Police told the Portland Press Herald that 7,000 pounds of live lobster were destroyed and that more than 4,500 lobsters died. PETA, the animal rights activist group, then petitioned the Maine Department of Transportation to erect a memorial to commemorate the lives of the lobsters lost at the crash site.
“Scientists have confirmed that lobsters have sophisticated nervous systems, and because crustaceans don’t enter a state of shock when injured, they feel every moment of their slow, painful death – whether from being torn limb from limb on the road or at the slaughterhouse or when they’re boiled alive in pots,” wrote PETA Director Danielle Katz in an open letter to the Maine Department of Transportation.
Lobsters can not go into shock, which means they FEEL when they R dismembered ALIVE!— #StopTAMUDogTests ???? (@peta) March 19, 2014
Lobsters FEEL, RT if AGREE! pic.twitter.com/WmrUTzbMuZ
PETA created a mock-up of what the memorial would look like: a gray gravestone five feet in height, engraved with a lobster, and the words “In Memory of the Lobsters Who Suffered and Died at This Spot, August 2018, Try Vegan ~PETA.”
The Main Department of Transportation reviewed the request but denied it earlier today in an open letter by chief counsel Jim Billings sent to PETA. Officials cited safety concerns and rules, including the prohibition of signs, that regulate busy “controlled-access” highways like Route 1.
“… [the lobsters] were packed into tight transport carriers, only to be violently thrown across the pavement, shells and limbs ripped from their bodies in the process…. [the memorial] would be an effective way to remind truck drivers and Brunswick residents of their responsibility to fellow motorists and animals.” Katz continued in her letter.
Earlier this very month, PETA put up a billboard in Maryland to dissuade people from eating seafood. The billboard read, “I’m me, not meat. See the Individual. Go Vegan.” However, it is likely to be an uphill battle to dissuade citizens of Maine from supporting the seafood industry as, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, fisherman landed more than a half-billion dollars worth of marine resources in 2017 with an overall value of $433 million.