The American lobster is an invasive species

News from the fish industry

May 30, 2016 Lobster: Sweden calls for a ban on imports of live lobsters

Is there a threat of a "live lobster ban"? Sweden has applied to the EU not to import the American lobster alive because it is an "invasive species".
An initiative by Sweden worries the lobster exporters in the USA and Canada: the Swedish Ministry of the Environment has submitted an application to the EU Commission to put the American lobster (Homarus americanus) on the international blacklist of invasive species, reports the IntraFish portal. That could result in a "live lobster ban": the ban on importing the lobster from North America into Europe alive. Such an import ban would have significant consequences for fisheries and seafood exporters, particularly in the US states of Massachusetts and Maine. According to the US National Fisheries Institute (NFI), North America exports lobsters worth 123 million euros to Europe every year.

Canada's Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo took talks with EU Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella at the Brussels SEG at the end of April to express his concerns about a possible import ban. The majority of Maine lobsters are sold to Europe via Canada. A few days later, parliamentarians from the US Senate and House of Representatives turned to the US authorities with the same concern. Since around a fifth of all US lobster exports are destined for the EU, a permanent import ban on live Homarus americanus would be devastating for the lobster industry in Massachusetts and the New England states. In 2014, the lobster fishery in Massachusetts earned 59.6 million euros with its landings. In Maine, Portland exporter New Meadows Lobster alone ships 500,000 pounds, around 230 tons.

US scientists, meanwhile, relativized the fears of Swedish critics regarding a possible transmission of the disease from the American to the European lobster. The demographically most dangerous disease of the species, bacterial shell disease, requires water temperatures of 65ºF, about 18.3ºC - in northern Europe the temperature of the water in summer does not normally rise above 53ºF or 11.6ºC, said the marine biologist Dr. Robert Steneck. And an increase is unlikely because there are too few of the animals in EU waters. 32 animals were found there over an eight-year period.

Read about the American lobster in the FischMagazin archive:
02/11/2016 USA: Every third lobster dish in the restaurant contains cheaper seafood
11/20/2015 Canada: More lobsters due to climate change
03/20/2015 USA: Lobster fishermen in Maine start MSC procedure