A European Union scientific forum, originally set to decide by Aug. 31 whether to validate Sweden’s claim that American lobsters are an invasive species, now expects to render its decision sometime this week.
Enrico Brivio, an EU spokesman, told the Portland Press Herald that the EU’s Scientific Forum on Invasive Species delayed its ruling because it still was compiling information on whether American lobsters are an invasive species whose export to all EU countries should be banned.
In March, Sweden petitioned the remainder of the European Union to list American lobsters as an invasive species, insisting an increased presence of the American crustaceans in Swedish waters during the past three decades is imperiling its indigenous lobsters.
The banning of the export of live American lobsters to the 28-nation EU would be a bitter and expensive pill to swallow for U.S. live lobster exporters. The issue also has caught the attention of elected officials in Maine and Massachusetts, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Congressman Seth Moulton and other members of the congressional delegations for the two New England states.
The U.S. exports about $150 million worth of live lobsters to the EU each year — the vast majority landed in Maine and Massachusetts, where Gloucester is the top port — and Canada exports about $75 million.
In June, the United States and Canada sent a withering rebuttal to Sweden’s initial claims, saying the Scandinavian country’s original risk assessment was based on faulty science and did not rise to the scientific level necessary to label the American lobsters, also known as Homarus americanus, as an invasive species.
Sweden responded at the end of July, saying it was sticking by its original risk assessment.