US urges Europe to keep importing American lobsters

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Obama administration is working to head off Sweden's push to ban imports of American lobsters to Europe.

In an April 12 letter to Maine's congressional delegation, the U.S. State Department says the administration is in close contact with officials in the European Union to ensure that U.S. lobster exports are not "unjustifiably restricted."

Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield said the administration is consulting with experts to evaluate the scientific basis for Sweden's assessment that 32 American lobsters found in Swedish waters pose a risk to the smaller European variety.

Sweden has asked the European Union to bar imports of live American lobsters into the 28-nation bloc, saying the crustaceans could spread disease and overwhelm the European variety by outcompeting them for food.

The U.S. and Canada export a combined $200 million in lobster to Europe annually.