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American lobster, Homarus americanus. (Photo: Stock File)

Relief about EU’s decision not to ban American lobster exports

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 02:20 (GMT + 9)

The European Commission (EC) informed Sweden it will not propose American lobster (Homarus americanus) be listed as invasive but it will instead pursue measures less likely to disrupt trade.

Last month the EU conducted an extensive review of a proposal to ban the lobsters from the US and Canada after a scientific panel had concluded Sweden raised valid points in requesting to declare the American lobster an invasive species, CBC News reported.

But the Invasive Alien Species Committee then showed that there was no support for listing the species, according to an EC’s spokesperson.

The news was welcomed by fishermen in New England and Canada, congressional leaders and U.S. scientists.

For his part, Gilles Thériault, president of GTA Fisheries Consultants in Moncton, said the news was good but expected. He said a ban would have been excessive given that Sweden only discovered 32 lobsters in its waters over seven years.

“This would have had a massive impact throughout the industry, from the fishermen on up to the processors to the restaurants who serve our lobsters and consumers who eat them,” said Annie Tselikis, marketing manager for Maine Coast Co. and a spokesman for the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association.

“We are thrilled. We don’t have specifics about the decision, but are thrilled the European market is not in question,” the manager added.

In Tselikis’ view, the US and Canada had been mounting an aggressive campaign to stop the Swedish proposal, with government, industry, trade and scientific representatives working closely with allies in Europe’s biggest lobster importing nations to squelch the Swedish proposal, Portland Press Herald reported.

The manager added that European importers worried about the potential ban had started postponing business investments, such as additional hiring.

Even though Sweden argued a listing would have only affected import of live lobsters, not frozen or cooked lobster products but the US said such a move would cripple the lobster industry, and threatened to bring its complaints to the World Trade Organization.

Canada and the US had alleged that Sweden was trying to shield its domestic lobster market from American exports.

While Sweden made the case that the lobsters were a threat to native European lobsters, the University of Maine research professor Rick Wahle and others maintained that the lobsters were most likely escapees from storage facilities.

The ban would have been a major threat to Canada's East Coast fishery, which exported about CAD 75 million in live lobster to European markets last year, a figure that the Lobster Council of Canada says accounts for about 10 per cent of live exports.

Related articles:

- Sweden insists American lobsters represent real threat
- Sweden keeps exercising pressure for EU to ban American lobster imports
- American authorities demand the EU to continue importing their lobsters

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