Maine Congressional Delegation Responds to EU Committee’s Dismissal of Proposed Lobster Ban

Sens. Collins and King and Reps. Pingree and Poliquin Repeatedly Urged the European Commission to Reject the Swedish Proposal to Ban Lobsters

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin responded to today’s announcement that the European Commission’s Committee on Invasive Alien Species has decided that they will not proceed with the listing of American lobster as an invasive species at the European Union level. The decision brings an end to the proposal that threatened to end live American lobster exports to EU countries. Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin have strongly advocated for the Maine lobster industry and urged the EU to reject the proposal.

“We are thrilled that the European Union listened to our concerns and will not list American lobster as an invasive species,” said Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin in a joint statement. “Since the import ban was requested by Sweden earlier this year, we repeatedly urged the European Union to reject the proposal, which would have had serious negative effects on thousands of hardworking Mainers who earn a living through the lobster industry. We are pleased that the European Commission took into account the firm scientific evidence as well as the consequences this harmful proposal could have had on the $200 million lobster trade and the thousands of Maine jobs that rely on it.”

On March 28, 2016, the Maine delegation sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, urging them “engage in immediate efforts to ensure the continuation of safe and responsible import of live Maine lobster.”

On June 17, 2016, in a letter to Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director General of Environment at the EU, members of the New England Congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representative Chellie Pingree urged the European Union to reject the proposed lobster ban and reinforced the joint paper’s conclusion.

On June 22, 2016 the Maine delegation announced that a scientific committee of the European Union was going to consider the arguments presented by top U.S. and Canadian scientists in response to a Swedish request to ban the import of American lobsters into the EU.

On September 16, 2016, the Maine delegation wrote to Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director General of Environment at the EU, requesting that the proposal continue to be measured against peer-reviewed science. The letter also urged Mr. Crespo to consider the economic repercussions of the proposed ban.

Lobster continues to be one of the largest catches in U.S. waters, with more than 120 million pounds landed each year. The industry is a significant economic driver and important cultural tradition for coastal communities.