Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Red Lobster In Hot Water Over Link to Illegalities

WASHINGTON – The Humane Society of the United States sent a letter today to the CEO and Director of Darden Restaurants, whose subsidiaries include Red Lobster, asking that the company discontinue their association with the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources (IFCNR). A recently released report co-authored by the Center for Public Integrity (CFPI) and NPR's Marketplace implicates the IFCNR in apparent illegal expenditures and advocating for the dismantling of the Endangered Species Act. Darden is listed as the principal contributor to the group, providing more than one-third of the support between 2000 and 2004. Other contributors include the National Trappers Association, The International Fur Trade Association, and the Japan Whaling Association.

In addition, according to a newspaper article, a person listed in the CFPI report as responsible for the IFCNR's financial affairs is a felon who pled guilty to embezzlement and has identified himself publicly through his organization, Strategic Resources International, as a consultant to Darden.

"The Humane Society of the United States has attempted for months to negotiate with you in good faith to have Red Lobster join in opposing Canada's brutal commercial seal hunt and join the boycott of Canadian seafood until the slaughter of baby seals is ended for good," wrote Dr. John W. Grandy, senior vice president for The HSUS. "Based on this report, we now are left to wonder if there was ever good faith on the part of Darden and Red Lobster."

The HSUS Protect Seals campaign has been advocating for a boycott of Canadian seafood to pressure the Canadian government into canceling its yearly commercial slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seals. As the largest seafood restaurant chain in the United States, Red Lobster has been repeatedly asked to join the boycott. A demonstration was held outside the company's stockholder meeting in Florida this September. Other restaurants across the country such as Tavern on the Green, and companies like Legal Sea Foods, Down East Seafood, Whole Foods Markets, Wild Oats Markets, Original Fish, and Spectrum Organics have all taken steps to reduce or end their Canadian seafood sales.

"The Humane Society of the United States is urging Darden to abandon any association with this anti-environmental group and their consultant, and join immediately and fully in the boycott of Canadian seafood to end the commercial seal slaughter," Grandy concluded.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization representing more than 9 million members and constituents. The non-profit organization is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals and equine protection, disaster preparedness and response, wildlife and habitat protection, animals in research and farm animal welfare. The HSUS protects all animals through education, investigation, litigation, legislation, advocacy, and field work. The group is based in Washington and has numerous field representatives across the country. On the web at www.hsus.org.

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