ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's lobster industry is once again being targeted by the animal rights group called PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- and the state's best known lobster business is in the bull's eye.
PETA is accusing Linda Bean's Maine Lobster of cruel and inhumane treatment of lobsters in her processing plant. The group rolled out what it says is an undercover video to prove its point.
PETA says the video was recorded by one of its members inside Linda Bean's plant in Rockland earlier this year. The group says it shows workers tearing the live lobsters apart...breaking off claws and tails, then dumping the still-moving lobster bodies into a bin. It also shows crabs being processed in some similar ways. PETA claims this violates Maine's cruelty to animals laws, and that it will file a complaint against Bean with local police or the District Attorney.
Linda Bean referred questions to her attorney, Steve Hayes, in Augusta. Hayes told NEWS CENTER the processing plant complies with all state and federal laws, and that the operations there are "basically identical" to those at other processing plants in Maine and Canada. He also says there are multiple scientific studies showing lobsters don't feel pain -- a key point of disagreement with PETA. The executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association made a similar point.
But PETA claims a European study shows crustaceans do feel pain.
As for the state, the Maine Department of Marine Resources issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon, completely supporting Linda Bean and dismissing PETA's complaint as "nothing more than another disingenuous attempt to advance their agenda and negatively impact Maine's most important coastal industry and the economy it supports." The DMR also says a review of the video showed the processing plant complies with all Maine laws, including the animal welfare laws.