Washington, D.C.—Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin joined together today to ask three top Obama Administration officials to resist Swedish efforts to ban the import of live Maine lobsters into the European Union. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, the Maine Congressional Delegation said live Maine lobsters have been exported around the world for decades and the risk of those lobsters breeding with European species is low.
"We urge you to engage in immediate efforts to ensure the continuation of safe and responsible import of live Maine lobsters, consistent with the EU’s World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations," the Delegation wrote. "Since only a small number of Maine lobsters have been found in foreign waters, we believe regulators should take a more finely tuned approach before calling this an 'invasion.' Some reports have suggested that individuals are releasing lobsters into European waters after their arrival. If this is the case, such a violation should be handled first by local law enforcement, rather than used to erect a barrier to legitimate international trade."
In their letter, Maine's Congressional Delegation highlighted the critical importance of the nearly $200 million trans-Atlantic lobster trade to economies in Maine and in Europe.
"It is in the best interest of all parties involved to maintain this sector of trans-Atlantic trade that supports so many Mainers and their families. Our lobstermen have heeded calls by President Obama to build export markets. We now need your help to ensure that the EU does not erect unjustified barriers to these markets," they wrote.
Click HERE to view the signed letter