WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin said today that a scientific committee of the European Union is considering arguments presented by U.S. and Canadian researchers in response to a Swedish request to ban the import of American lobsters into the EU. The researchers, who prepared their report at the request of the Maine Congressional delegation, found that there was no valid scientific evidence that lobsters are an invasive species. That report was then submitted to the EU Scientific Forum on Invasive Alien Species to counter a claim from Swedish scientists that American lobsters were posing a threat to the European environment.
“We are pleased that both U.S. and Canadian experts have found there is no firm evidence that American lobsters are an invasive threat to Europe and that their analyses will be considered in the risk assessment,” Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin said in a joint statement. “We will continue to fight for Maine’s lobster industry and do everything we can to ensure that all of the facts are considered in this assessment.”
After reviewing the Swedish request and reviewing information from U.S. and Canadian scientists, an EU official told the Maine Congressional delegation that “the feedback provided by Canada and the U.S. provided new elements, some of which were not yet considered in the risk assessment. Therefore, the Scientific Forum requested Sweden to update the risk assessment taking into account these elements as appropriate.”
EU officials have told the Maine delegation that Swedish scientists have until July 31 to provide additional information and the Scientific Forum will then issue a decision on the scientific evidence by August 31. If the Scientific Forum finds the scientific evidence convincing, it will be then up to the Committee on Invasive Alien Species to take other factors, including economic considerations, into account before ruling on a proposed ban.
Top U.S. and Canadian scientists, including Dr. Bob Steneck of the University of Maine, produced this joint paper concluding that there was no scientific evidence to support that Maine lobsters could survive long enough in European waters to be considered an invasive species.
In recent months, the Maine Congressional delegation, along with other members of the New England delegation, has rallied against a proposal by Sweden to ban the import of live Maine lobsters to the European Union.