WASHINGTON, D.C. — Many Americans were introduced to Swan’s Island, Maine, for the first time Tuesday night when fisherman Jason Joyce described it this way at the virtual Republican National Convention:
“I live on an island with 370 residents, and lobstering is how we provide for our families. Maine’s lobstermen are true environmentalists. We practice conservation every day. If we didn’t, we’d be putting ourselves out of business.”
Speaking from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., Joyce told viewers of the virtual Republican National Convention that he didn’t support Donald Trump’s campaign for president in 2016.
“Skeptical that he shared my conservative views, I expected him to flip–flop on his campaign promises,” Joyce said. But now he “strongly supports” the President’s re-election.
“As long as Trump is president, fishing families like mine will have a voice,” he said. “But if (Joe) Biden wins, he’ll be controlled by the environmental extremists who want to circumvent longstanding rules and impose radical changes that hurt our coastal communities.”
Maine’s lobster industry has a long history of contention with some environmental groups, including the current high-stakes battle over regulations intended to protect endangered right whales from entanglement with fishing gear. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association and other groups contend that there’s not enough evidence that proposed rules will work to protect the whales.
Trump won Maine’s second Congressional district in 2016 and is hoping to hold onto it this year. In June, he visited Puritan Medical Products in Guilford and held a fishing industry roundtable at which he signed an executive order opening a national marine monument to commercial fishing.
Most commercial fishing was banned inside the 4,900-square-mile Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument when President Obama created it in 2016; commercial crabbing and lobstering are still allowed but were scheduled to end in 2023.
“Although Maine’s lobstermen don’t fish there, Obama’s executive order offended us greatly,” said Joyce, who serves on several industry councils and the Swan’s Island Board of Selectmen. “It circumvented the fisheries counsels’ input.”
He also lauded the end of European Union tariffs on Maine live lobsters and lobster products, announced just last week. Industry leaders and members of Maine’s Congressional delegation had been at work on that issue for several years. Chinese tariffs, and promised federal aid to fishermen harmed by them, are still a problem.
Trump “has followed through on his promises,” Joyce said, citing the nomination of judges “who respect the Constitution and the right to life” and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, long a goal of evangelical Christians.
A few Hancock County Republicans had planned to attend the convention in Charlotte, N.C., before it switched to a mostly-virtual format, county committee chair Sandi Blanchette told the Islander.
“I’m really excited,” she said Tuesday afternoon about seeing a local Republican speak on such a prominent stage. “How cool is that?”