President Donald Trump falsely claimed Thursday that his predecessor was responsible for the struggles of the Maine lobster and fishing industries.
After more than three years in office and pointing to polls against alleged Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump positioned himself on Twitter as the industry champion after signing a memorandum that would direct federal aid dollars to fishermen affected by loss of income.
“Now it’s back, bigger and better than anyone thought possible,” he wrote in the tweet. “Make a lot of money!”
Trump has his facts wrong. It was his trade war with China that destabilized the industry and cost the large lobster fishermen that precipitated the rescue of his administration, while the industry achieved record sales under former President Barack Obama.
“Since 2018, the lobster industry has been severely affected by China’s retaliatory fees,” Annie Tselikis, executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers Association, said in a statement, adding that the group was ” pleased that President Trump has listened to our concerns. “
The president’s trade war with China, which saw retaliatory tariffs of 25 percent, and then 35 percent, imposed on lobster exports from the United States, has cost lobster fishermen millions of dollars in sales, a strong Contrast to the record highs the industry saw year after year during the Obama Administration, which culminated in the industry’s most valuable journey in 2016.
The industry was also optimistic about Obama’s trade talks with the European Union during his second term that could have reduced tariffs facing shipping to those markets. Negotiations stalled after Trump’s victory, and during his administration, the US industry suffered as the EU trade deal with Canada gave Canadian lobster fishers a huge advantage in the lucrative trade. .
And while the industry has welcomed the possibility of a dollar bailout, there is also no evidence that it is “back, bigger and better.”
In addition to the ongoing trade wars, the coronavirus pandemic has overturned seafood markets. States temporarily closed restaurants across the country, slowing domestic demand along the way. Seventy percent of Americans’ spending on fishing in 2017 was spent away from home, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
International markets, demand, and even logistics for overseas shipping have been similarly affected by the coronavirus.
Trump also bragged this week about the opening of 5,000 square miles of ocean waters near Cape Cod, which Obama had declared a national marine monument, to fishermen, although there are doubts about the legality of such a move and environmental groups have sued to stop it. . The Bangor Daily News reports that the area is too far from the coast for most commercial fishermen in the state.
“It was a great honor to release 5,000 square miles of ocean off the coast of Maine. Enjoy! “Trump tweeted.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, applauded the bailout dollars and said the spending was necessary because of the Trump administration’s trade policies.
“After years of beating Maine fishermen with myopic trade wars, I am pleased that the President is beginning to recognize the damage that his Administration’s policies have caused and now wants to take steps to rectify them,” he said in a statement Thursday. .