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LOBSTER INVASION: Europe Wants To Ban American Lobster Imports

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Europe wants to ban importing American lobsters, and despite the best U.S. efforts, they might actually succeed.

A group of European scientists decided to look more closely at Sweden’s lobster situation Tuesday, and will consider adding U.S. lobsters to the invasive alien species list.

The Scientific Council on Invasive Species, made up of representatives from all European Union member countries, agreed that lobsters were a matter of concern after an 85-page report revealed 32 American lobsters were found off the coast of Sweden, Norway and Great Britain, the Associated Press reports.

The council’s move to perhaps ban the species “does not prejudge in any way the decision on whether the commission will propose the lobster for listing [on the invasive species list],” Iris Petsa, spokesperson for the European Union, said in a statement. “This is a preliminary opinion on a purely scientific risk assessment and not a decision as to whether to ban the species.”

American lobster fishers are naturally worried about the ban. The U.S. exports more than $150 million in lobsters to the EU every year, and Canada exports another $75 million.

U.S. lawmakers and scientists say the scientific arguments are shaky at best.

“There is no strong scientific evidence to justify a ban on the import of live lobsters into the entire 28-country European Union, as Sweden wrongly proposes,” the four members of Maine’s Congressional delegation, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin, said in a joint statement earlier this week.

If the EU goes forward with the ban, it will likely take until spring 2017 to work through the EU bureaucracy. The U.S. may have a recourse to appeal the decision with the World Trade Organization, which could step in to protect America’s right to export lobsters, Maine’s Portland Press Herald reports.

European scientists have discovered fewer than 100 American lobsters in the ocean over the past decade, but they once found a female lobster with eggs on her back, suggesting the lobster bred with a local species. Most of the lobsters Sweden found still had bands on their claws.

One Maine lobsterman thinks something fishy is going with the lobsters that end up in open water.

“It seems to me that they have a problem over there with people releasing things into the ocean,” Arnie Gamage, Jr, a lobster fisherman in Maine told  the AP. “It’s their problem, not our problem.”

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