Collins, King, Pingree Urge European Union to Reject Proposed Lobster Ban

In letter to EU, members say scientific evidence does not support ban

In a letter to a top environmental official at the European Union (EU), members of the New England Congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representative Chellie Pingree, spoke out against a proposal by Sweden to ban the import of live Maine lobsters into the EU.

Earlier this year, members of the Maine Congressional delegation asked U.S. officials to respond to the proposed ban. The request resulted in a joint paper by top U.S. and Canadian scientists.  In their letter today to Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director General of Environment at the EU, the members reinforced the paper’s conclusion that although a few Maine lobsters may have been found in EU waters, there was no scientific evidence to suggest that they could survive long enough to be considered an invasive species.

"Earlier this month, the United States and Canada jointly submitted a response to Sweden's risk assessment, compiled by scientists with collective decades spent studying the species. We support their determination that, though a small number of American lobsters may have been found in European waters, there is no current scientific basis to suggest that they can survive in sufficient numbers to pose a legitimate threat to the native Homarus gammarus (European lobster)," the members wrote in their letter.

The letter was signed by Senators Susan Collins, Angus King, Ed Markey, Jack Reed, and Sheldon Whitehouse as well as Representatives Chellie Pingree, Seth Moulton, David Cicilline, Jim Langevin, Richard Neal, Bill Keating, and Stephen Lynch.

The full text of the letter is below:

June 17, 2016

Mr. Daniel Calleja Crespo

Director General-DG Environment

European Commission

B-1049 Brussels Belgium

Dear Mr. Crespo,

We write to express significant concerns with the Swedish government’s proposal to list Homarus americanus (American lobster) as an invasive alien species, effectively prohibiting importation of live lobster to the European Union.

Earlier this month, the United States and Canada jointly submitted a response to Sweden's risk assessment, compiled by scientists with collective decades spent studying the species. We support their determination that, though a small number of American lobsters may have been found in European waters, there is no current scientific basis to suggest that they can survive in sufficient numbers to pose a legitimate threat to the native Homarus gammarus (European lobster).

We represent parts of coastal New England, a region with strong cultural and economic ties to the American lobster. We recognize the importance of sound fisheries management, and as such, have the utmost respect for the EU’s desire to develop environmental policy based on rigorous scientific analysis. In this case, the existing evidence does not support the listing of the American lobster as an invasive alien species.

Thank you for your consideration of the joint United States-Canadian response to Sweden’s proposal. We hope that this issue can be resolved quickly.