US and Canadian Scientists Respond to Sweden’s Attempted Ban on American Lobster

FILE - In this July 2007, file photo, a scientist holds a lobster underwater on Friendship Long Island, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

FILE – In this July 2007, file photo, a scientist holds a lobster underwater on Friendship Long Island, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

BOSTON – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Monday that a team of U.S. and Canadian scientists have prepared a response to a Swedish proposal which would effectively ban the American lobster from European Union waters.

Sweden had solicited the European Union to consider the species invasive and bar imports of live lobsters into the 28-nation bloc earlier this year. The move was apparently in response to finding American lobsters alive in Swedish waters.

NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs deputy director Steven Wilson said in a teleconference yesterday that, although some evidence suggests some hybridization between the American and European lobster species, there is not enough evidence to claim the American lobster is invasive.

“From a European’s perspective, live lobster from North American generates investment, employment and economic returns for the EU, and the economic supply chain,” Wilson said.

Wilson reported that four female American lobsters had been found with hybrid eggs. But, he said, in order to qualify a species as “invasive,” more evidence is needed which proves it able to thrive and not simply survive.

But that won’t necessarily stop the measure from becoming a reality if it enters into discussion on the EU’s June 20th Agenda meeting. If that happens, Wilson said the union’s previous acceptance of minority viewpoints would likely let it pass.

That’s why he’s hoping the American scientists’ response will preclude it from even entering the upcoming agenda.

Massachusetts has the second-largest lobster fishery in the country, next to Maine. Both states have expressed concerns over a ban on imports to Europe.

The response is expected to be sent to the European Union Environmental Committee by Tuesday.

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