Sweden keeps exercising pressure for EU to ban American lobster imports

Lobster from Maine. (Photo: Roberto Rodriguez)

Sweden keeps exercising pressure for EU to ban American lobster imports

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 02:10 (GMT + 9)

Sweden’s Agency for Marine and Water Management insists it is “vital” to take a precautionary approach to the ban on American live lobster imports into the European Union (EU).

The entity, which has raised awareness as to the fact that American lobsters could spread disease and overtake the smaller European variety of lobster, points out that more research is needed into the impact of cross-breeding of American and European lobsters, Associated Press reported.

The issue started earlier this year after 32 American lobsters were found in Swedish waters. However, after conducting research, American scientists reached the conclusion that the Swedish position is based on the country’s interests.

Given the controversy, the Congressional delegation of Maine, the country’s largest lobster producing state, stressed it will appeal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if the European Union ultimately sides with the Swedes.

“The science they are citing is flawed,” Congressman Seth Moulton said following a congressional briefing by NOAA Fisheries on the international contretemps. “They’ve done nothing to back up their data. And if they can’t back up their data, then there’s something else going on,” The Salem News informed.

Meanwhile, Robert S. Steneck, a University of Maine scientist, wrote a paper that said the American lobsters that turned up in Europe were most likely released illegally, as opposed to migrating across the ocean.

The researcher also wrote that American lobsters don’t pose a threat to European lobsters, in part because winter ocean temperatures along the coasts of European countries are too warm for the American lobsters to reproduce.

If the Swedish petition is successful, the invasive species listing would lead to a ban on US and Canadian live lobster exports to Sweden and the rest of the 28-member European Union.

The US exports about USD 150 million worth of live lobsters to the EU each year — the vast majority landed in Maine and Massachusetts, where Gloucester is the top port — while Canada exports about USD 75 million.

The Swedish risk assessment, which cites the adverse potential of disease and cross-breeding between the indigenous lobsters and their American cousins across the pond, was like a starting pistol, spurring both US and Canadian governmental agencies, trade officials and lobster stakeholders into action.

European Union’s Scientific Forum on Invasive Alien Species is expected to express an opinion about Sweden’s call for a ban on August 31.

Related articles:

American authorities demand the EU to continue importing their lobsters
EU’s possible lobster restrictions also worry Massachusetts
Maine worries about EU’s possible ban on live lobster imports


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