On Friday, US President Donald Trump met with leaders from Maine's fishing industry in the small city of Bangor, where he made a spate of promises and solicited praise for his administration's work in seafood.
"We're cutting regulations from highways to roadways to fish," Trump said.
Trump used the meeting as an opportunity to sign a proclamation that would open up a marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. US fishermen and processing companies have largely opposed the creation of the monument since it was formed in 2016, according to the small group of participants present at the roundtable.
The Obama administration established the 5,000 square-mile Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in 2016 to protect the area's sensitive sea bottom and endangered right whales.
Frank O’Hara, Jr., from the O’Hara Corporation, one of the participants, lauded Trump for move. He noted while the monument did not directly impact his fishing operations, it set a dangerous precedent for the seafood industry.
"Once they take one canyon, they'll take another, and another, then they'll go over to the West coast," O'Hara said.
US Interior Secretary David Bernhardt confirmed with Trump the fishing area would be open immediately after signing the proclamation.
"You're opening up 5,000 square miles with a stroke of a pen," Bernhardt said. "We're taking down a no fishing sign and opening up."
Ironically, the Trump administration initially argued for the monument to stay in place in 2018, and asked for a judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by fishermen seeking to get it overturned, according to the Associated Press.
"You're so lucky I'm president," Trump joked to the participants at one point during the meeting. "I don't even know you and you're so lucky."
Trump referred several times to an executive order he signed last month that aims to boost the domestic seafood industry by streamlining aquaculture development and "cutting red tape" on the fisheries sector.
It's still unclear what the ultimate mission of the task force will be, but it is slated to include the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Homeland Security; the director of Office of Management and Budget, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and other top administration officials.
LePage largely blamed NOAA during the conversation for why the fishing industry is burdened by government and over-regulated.
Trump also brought up trade tariffs, a favorite topic of the president. In regards to the European Union's and China's tariffs on lobster fishermen, he said he would "take care of it."
"We don't charge them a tariff?" Trump asked of EU and China seafood imports. "How stupid is that?"
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In fact, the Trump administration has imposed tariffs on a range of seafood products from China during his ongoing tit-for-tat trade war with the country.
In March, the administration lifted a 25 percent tariff it imposed on Chinese tilapia and red swimming crab imports that had been in place for over a year and a half. In addition, he has threatened adding tariffs on imports from the European Union, including seafood, on several occasions.
Trump named his White House Advisor Peter Navarro the “lobster king," and said Navarro would be in charge of imposing tariffs on EU vehicles and so-far unnamed products from China to help force the removal of any tariffs on US lobster imports.
Trump drew fire from critics over the trip, which was broadly seen as an effort to distract from the broad domestic turmoil over race relations in the United States.
His visit Friday to the whitest state in the United States was met with 200 protesters outside of the airport, reported the Bangor Daily News.
Other participants in the roundtable included Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association; Massachusetts-based Atlantic Red Crab Company Owner Jon Williams,; Atlantic Trawlers Fishing Owner James Odlin; and O'Hara Corporation's Government Affairs Director Mary Beth Tooley.