Sweden aims to ban American lobster imports
By SeafoodSource staff
13 August, 2012
Food Export USA-Northeast announced on Monday that the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Stockholm reported that Sweden will apply to the European Commission and the World Trade Organization to impose a ban on the unregulated import and sales of live American lobster from the United States and Canada.
The Swedish government hopes to enact the ban by next summer, with Norway and other neighboring countries to follow Sweden’s lead. An exemption for importers who have a closed system for boiling lobsters is being included.
The proposal lists three major reasons for the ban: American lobster (Homarus americanus) carries several contagious diseases that could spread to native populations of European lobster; American lobster is a hardy species that can travel long distances and can compete for food and shelter with the native European lobster; and there is a risk of hybridization with native European lobster, which may result in negative genetic effects with consequences for Swedish and other European stocks.
The EU Commission is currently developing a proposal for an EU Invasive Species Strategy. It is unclear whether the proposal will include new import restrictions. It is also uncertain whether the American lobster will be included in any list of invasive species.
Individual member states may not restrict trade and the spreading of invasive alien species based on current regulations for Plant Protection, Animal Health and Welfare and Use of Species in Aquaculture. However, in 2003 Sweden succeeded in implementing a ban on live freshwater crayfish based on the Species Protection Ordinance that regulates entry of live freshwater crayfish in Swedish legislation and was approved by the EU Commission.
While Swedish importers recognize the problem with illegal handling of live lobster and would like to see tighter controls, they were against SwAM’s original proposal to ban live American lobster entirely. This possible ban would have limited Swedish consumers to purchasing European lobster, which are much more expensive. Reportedly, Swedish lobster amount to only 20 metric tons per year. In 2011, Sweden imported 180 metric tons of live American lobster from the United States at a value of USD 2.6 million. The major importers sell about 50 percent boiled lobster to retailers and 50 percent live lobster to wholesalers. If the Swedish government opts for boiling requirements verses a ban, importers and wholesalers without closed systems will no longer have access to live American lobster.
13 August, 2012