October 14, 2016 - 2:02 PM
PORTLAND, Maine - The European Union is backing off a Swedish proposal to ban imports of American lobster into 28 member countries.
Officials with the EU say the European Commission has informed Sweden it will not propose the lobster be listed as invasive. It will instead pursue measures less likely to disrupt trade.
The EU decided last month to conduct an extensive review of a proposal to ban lobsters imported from the U.S. and Canada. A scientific panel had concluded Sweden raised valid points in requesting to declare the American lobster an invasive species.
Fishermen in New England and Canada, congressmen and scientists opposed the ban. They said the proposed ban wasn't based in sound science.
The dispute started when Sweden announced it had found 32 American lobsters in its waters.
The federal Liberal government expressed alarm at word the EU was considering a ban, vowing it would "vigorously'' try to convince the European Union that American lobster did not pose a threat.
Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Canadian and American officials had "compelling" scientific evidence that U.S. lobster is not an invasive species.
Those who make a living fishing lobster could have lost $200 million in business if such a ban was imposed.
Most live lobster from Atlantic Canada is shipped to the U.S., but industry groups consider Europe a coveted market and were extremely worried about the prospect of a ban.
There has been an upswing in the lobster market in part due to a weak Canadian dollar, growing demand from China and a shift in consumer tastes toward processed meat in everything from lobster rolls to lobster macaroni and cheese.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016