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article imageEU plans an extensive review of proposal to ban American lobsters

By Karen Graham     Sep 7, 2016 in Food
In a move that could hurt American and Canadian lobster fisheries, the European Union is conducting an extensive review of a proposal to ban lobsters imported from the U.S. and Canada.
On Tuesday, the European Union’s Scientific Forum on Invasive Alien Species announced there was enough scientific evidence to go ahead with a more extensive review of Sweden's request to declare the American lobster an invasive species, according to CBS News.
The opinion by the forum allows for a broader view that will also take into account the opinions of North American officials, both in the U.S. and in Canada, who have been very critical of the proposal to ban their lobsters.
The American lobster, Homarus americanus, is a species of lobster found on the Atlantic Coast of North America from Labrador in the north to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in the south. They can weigh up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds), making them the heaviest crustaceans in the world.
The European lobster, Homarus gammarus, sometimes called the common lobster, is smaller and a light-weight compared to the American lobster, only reaching about six kilograms (13 pounds), but with a very conspicuous pair of claws. It is found in the Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and parts of the Black Sea.
The international dispute started when in December 2015, Swedish authorities issued an 85-page report that stated, "the American lobsters posed a very high risk to their native species." Sweden stated that 32 American lobsters have been found in their waters over a span of eight years, reported the CS Monitor in June.
Actually, Sweden was joining several European countries, including the U.K. and Norway who had asked that American lobsters, sometimes referred to as Maine lobsters, be added to the EU's list of invasive species. The ban would affect live lobster exports from the U.S. and Canada, freezing trade that is worth over $200 million between the two North American countries, according to The Star .
Maine's Congressional delegation issued a statement saying the EU's actions represent an "unnecessary overreaction that would have devastating economic effects on the American lobster industry that supports so many Mainers and their families."
And in Canada, Geoff Irvine, the executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada said "We have been advocating with governments. We've been encouraging Canadian exporters to advocate with their national governments. Even with the growth of Asia, even with the growth of other markets, we need the European Union."
The risk of American lobsters cross-breeding with European species has been scoffed at because there has been no evidence of hybrid lobsters to date. Scientists say there is too much of a difference in water temperatures and breeding habitats between the two species.
Arnie Gamage Jr. is a Maine lobsterman and he questions how the lobsters got into Swedish waters in the first place. Like many people, he believes they were released illegally.
"It seems to me that they have a problem over there with people releasing things into the ocean. It's their problem, not our problem," he said, according to Fox News.
More about European union, Sweden, us and canada, ban on imports, Invasive species
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