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Sweden wants EU to ban import of live American lobsters

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(STOCKHOLM) - The Swedish government said Friday it had asked the European Union to block the import of live American lobster, in a bid to avoid contamination of its native species.

More than 30 American lobsters have been discovered off Sweden's west coast in recent years, the government said.

"American lobster can carry diseases and parasites that can spread to the European lobster and cause extremely high mortality," Environment Minister Asa Romson said in a statement.

Interbreeding of species could lead to negative genetic effects and threaten the survival of the European species, the ministry said in its statement.

"Sweden has now formally requested that American lobster be put on the EU's list of invasive alien species," the statement said.

"Listing American lobster means a ban on imports of live American lobsters at EU level," it said.

The European lobster is relatively small and delicate compared to its larger American cousin.


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Flores Bogota

Posted by Flores Bogota at 03 February 2017, 09:30 CET
Sweden isn’t giving up on a long-running battle with the U.S. and Canada over lobsters that have turned up in Swedish waters.

Officials with Sweden told The Associated Press that their country is working on a new proposal about how to deal with American lobsters that have turned up. A controversy about whether American lobsters are invasive in Swedish waters has simmered for almost a year.

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Sweden had wanted the European Union to consider a ban of imports of American lobsters. That call came after Sweden announced it had found 32 American lobsters in its waters.

European Union officials turned away that request in October after American and Canadian scientists and politicians raised concerns about a lack of evidence that the lobsters warranted such a sweeping ban. But Swedish officials told the AP that the country remains concerned that American lobsters could interfere with European lobsters, which have economic value.

“We are preparing a new proposal on national and regional measures on the American lobster that will be presented for the Swedish government this winter,” said Sofia Brockmark, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.

Brockmark and other Swedish officials did not provide more specifics about Sweden’s upcoming proposal, other than that it will address invasive lobsters with countrywide and regional measures as opposed to an international ban.

Maine is the biggest lobster fishing state in the U.S., and the New England lobster industry dug in against Sweden’s proposed ban. America sends about $150 million in lobster to the European Union annually. Canada also sells the same species of lobster to Europe.

Some of the lobsters that were found in Europe were wearing the rubber bands that are put on their claws in captivity. That led to speculation that they were imported lobsters that either escaped into the wild or were released.

Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, said her organization is working with others in the industry, as well as American and Canadian government agencies, to help prevent American lobsters from escaping in Europe.

The effort will include educating buyers in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, Casoni said.

“The goal is to keep them going to Europe and hopefully find some mitigation factors,” she said. “They hold them in pounds just like over here. Sometimes one or two might escape.”

The European Union is of the opinion that the issue now lies with Sweden, said Iris Petsa, a spokeswoman for the EU’s European Commission. She said the country would still need to notify the European Commission before applying restrictions on national trade.