Local Lobster Industry Seeks to Level Playing Field with Canada

HYANNIS – An effort is underway by the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association to the level the playing field for exports to Europe before it tilts in Canada’s favor next month.

A trade agreement between Canada and the 28-nation European Union which removes tariffs from lobsters exported from Canada takes effect September 21.

Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association Beth Casoni said the agreement would give Canadian dealers an 8 percent advantage when shipping lobsters to the EU.

“We have reached out to our Congressional members here in Massachusetts to see if there is some way where we can get a subsidy or credit in shipping or health certificates for our United States lobster dealers that are currently shipping lobsters to the EU,” Casoni said.

Casoni has had conversations with the offices of Senator Ed Markey and Bourne Congressman William Keating and said they are equally concerned with the possible disadvantage for local lobster fishermen and dealers.

“We’re hopefully going to be able to do something to offset the 8 percent advantage that Canada dealers will have in September,” Casoni said.

Casoni said the ultimate goal would be for the US to strike a similar deal with the EU to remove the tariffs.

“We are in the midst of conversations about getting that done but, as we all know, the process at the Capitol Hill level does not move that quick,” she said. “September 21st is only a couple of months away and we want to see if we can get some emergency action that would help keep the playing field equal.”

Casoni said the US lobstermen land the majority of their lobsters from September through December and the European demand is high for the holiday season.

“We won’t know really until the dust settles what the impact of this will be,” she said.

The association is working closely with big dealers in the United States to find possible solutions.

“The Lobster Trap in Bourne is very concerned because Europe is a big market for them,” Casoni said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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