Maine lawmakers aim to strip Whole Foods of state tax breaks over lobster ban

The Amazon-owned grocer blacklisted Maine lobster after a conservation group pulled support for the industry

Whole Foods' decision to pull Maine lobster from its stores has lawmakers in the state looking to pull tax incentives from the grocery chain.

The Amazon-owned organic grocer announced last year that it would no longer sell Gulf of Maine lobster, after a pair of influential sustainability groups claimed that the industry's fishing gear poses too great a risk to the endangered North Atlantic right whale species. 

whole foods logo

A Whole Foods Market sign is seen in Washington, DC. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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The move sparked uproar from the Maine Lobsterman's Association, which says that the industry hasn't had any interactions with right whales in nearly two decades and that Whole Foods' ban on Maine lobster will only hurt fishing families in the state.

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Now, Maine legislators from both sides of the aisle are looking to hit Whole Foods back, along with any other retailers that blacklist Maine products due to outside pressure.

Maine lobsterman hold rally

Hundreds of lobstermen, their families, supporters and political figures rally for the state to sue federal regulators and stop proposed rules that the fishermen say will decimate their industry.  (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images. / Getty Images)

Maine Senate Republican Leader Trey Stewart is sponsoring a bill aimed at punishing any business that boycotts Maine products due to the influence of a third party, by prohibiting the companies from participating in the state's Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program. 

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Whole Foods has hundreds of stores nationwide but only one location in Maine, which received a $36,671 reimbursement under the program last year.

Man holds lobster on boat

Joe Dean, an Iraq war combat veteran, works on his family's lobster boat, on August 7, 2021. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The legislation has bipartisan support, but skeptics have voiced concerns over its constitutionality.

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Whole Foods did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.

FOX Business' Kristen Altus and the Associated Press contributed to this report.