Maine's Congressional Delegation has strong words for Sweden: "Don't pick on our lobsters."
That was the message from Rep. Bruce Poliquin, speaking at a joint press conference with Senator Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree Friday. They're speaking out against Sweden's proposal to ban imports of American lobster, jeopardizing a $200 million European market.
"We cannot let bad trade deals impact our jobs in Maine," said Rep. Poliquin.
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This fight started when Sweden claimed it found 32 American lobsters in its waters over the span of about eight years. Swedish officials worried the lobsters could cross-breed with European lobsters and hurt the ecosystem. They are asking the European Union to label American lobsters an "invasive species" and halt imports from Maine and other regions.
"We thought it was a joke," said John Ready, owner of Ready Seafood in Portland, Maine. He said Europe is a major market for their shipments.
But a lobster ban became one step closer to reality earlier this month, when a European Union panel decided to give the Swedish proposal a closer look.
The EU's scientific forum will have a full review by this spring.
Maine's Congressional Delegation is putting pressure on U.S. and European authorities to oppose the ban, sending a letter to EU officials Friday explaining that the science does not back up the Swedish concerns.
"There's no known reproducing of lobsters outside of its native range," said Professor Bob Steneck, who researchers Marine Ecology at the University of Maine.