Maine asks Obama to rebuff ban on lobster exports to EU

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine's congressional delegation on Monday asked the Obama administration to resist efforts to ban the import of live Maine lobsters by European Union countries, saying the discovery of American lobsters in Swedish waters doesn't warrant such harsh measures.

"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,'" Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin wrote in the letter.

Sweden asked the EU this month to list American lobster as a "foreign species," which would prohibit imports of live American lobsters into the 28-nation bloc.

All told, Sweden said more than 30 American lobsters have been found in its coastal waters in recent years. Sweden contends the American lobsters could wipe out their European cousins through interbreeding and the introduction of diseases.

The Maine delegation said lobsters represent the state's biggest export to Europe, with an annual value of about $196 million.

In their letter, the Maine lawmakers said trade restrictions must be based on scientific principles and supported by scientific evidence. "Moreover, such measures may not be disguised restrictions on international trade," they wrote.

The letter was addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Kathryn Sullivan from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.