Gov. Mills Asks Portland Jetport to Remove Signs Asking Travelers Not To Eat Fish

March 1, 2022

Mar. 1—Gov. Janet Mills has called on the Portland International Jetport to remove large banner ads that depict whales entangled in fishing gear and the words "Save the whales: Don't eat fish" in bold yellow and black text.

The ads, purchased by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, went on display Feb. 19, and immediately elicited strong reactions from fishermen, restaurant owners and others who believe it is an affront to Maine's seafood industry and identity.

Social media has been abuzz with comments on the signs, including calls for the governor to step in. Some commenters argued that the ads' claim that "fishing gear kills 300,000 whales and dolphins annually," is misleading.

Others posted that they contacted airport management to request that it remove the signs, pointing out that the jetport's mission statement is to provide "a convenient, safe and environmentally conscious gateway ... reflecting the essence of the Maine experience."

In a letter sent Friday to Airport Director Paul Bradbury, Mills stated that the banner spread "insults hardworking Maine people," and "undermines a vital and iconic sector of our state's economy."

She argued that the ads falsely portray Maine's seafood industry, which has made a commitment to responsible harvesting practices and protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales, and is also a major reason tourists visit the state.

Assistant Airport Director Zachary Sundquist told the Press Herald last week that PETA purchased the ads through Clear Channel Airports, which has exclusive advertising rights in the terminal, and that ads are reviewed by Portland officials. Mills asked that the necessary officials review the banners.

"I strongly believe (they) should be removed and replaced with materials that promote Maine as the great place it is," the governor wrote. "The first and last impression of Maine for the visitors who travel through the Jetport should extol the virtues and strengths of our state and promote our global reputation as a premier seafood destination — not the opposite."

A spokesperson for the city of Portland, which owns the jetport, said Monday that the city has received the governor's letter and is reviewing it, but had no comment Monday. She said the ads are slated to come down March 5.


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