April 4, 2016 | By: JOHN BRINKLEY
Sweden has asked the European Union to ban imports of American lobsters.
About 87 of them have turned up in Western European waters during the last 28 years. That number includes 32 found off the coast of Sweden. They had rubber bands around their claws bearing the name of a Maine export company. Marine biologists found that some bore eggs that had been fertilized by Norway lobsters. So, the Swedes have asked the European Union to list American lobsters as an invasive species. Sweden and Norway have already stopped importing them.
Maine’s congressional delegation sent a letter to three Obama administration officials on March 28, asking them to oppose Sweden’s request.
‘As live lobsters are Maine’s top export to the EU, any attempt to halt their import could have serious repercussions for Maine lobstermen and their families,’ the letter said. ‘Since only a small number of Maine lobsters have been found in foreign waters, we believe regulators should take a more finely-tuned approach before calling this an ‘invasion.’’
Cleverly worded, that. Only a small number of Maine lobsters have been found, but not all American lobsters are from Maine.
The letter went to Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Kathryn Sullivan.
‘The U.S. Government is working to evaluate the scientific basis of Sweden’s request,’ a State Department official said. ‘We are in close contact with our European colleagues to ensure that legitimate trade is not unjustifiably restricted.’
The EU is a significant export market for live lobsters from the eastern United States, and it’s been growing. Exports rose in value from $332.2 million in 2006 to $577.7 million in 2015, according to the Census Bureau. Live lobster exports from the U.S. and Canada to the E.U. amount to about 13,000 metric tons per year, according to the government of Sweden. That’s a lot of lobsters.
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