Massachusetts delegation sends letter in response to petition by Sweden to ban U.S. exports of American lobster to the European Union

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressmen Seth Moulton (D-MA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Bill Keating (D-MA) and Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led an effort to protect the Massachusetts lobster industry in response to the Swedish government’s petition to classify the American lobster as an invasive species. The petition ultimately seeks to ban the import of live American lobsters from the United States to the European Union (EU).

The entire state delegation joined in sending a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Ambassador Michael Froman, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator, Kathryn Sullivan. The letter notes that the EU’s alien species regulations must offer robust scientific evidence in support of any species ban, and argues that this is not the case for the American lobster. The letter can be viewed here.

“The Sixth District is home to the largest and most active lobster fleet in Massachusetts, and the lobster industry is a critical part of our history and local economy,” said Congressman Seth Moulton. “This effort to ban U.S. exports of American lobster is not based in science. In fact, studies conducted by leading marine scientists refute Sweden’s assertions that American lobster meet the criteria to be banned by the European Union. This ban would not only have a detrimental impact on the livelihoods of hardworking men and women in the lobster industry, but it would also hurt the entire Massachusetts economy. I’m grateful that our entire delegation stands united to ensure our lobster industry continues to thrive, and I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to advance a collaborative and transparent dialogue on this issue.”

"The lobster industry is as important to our local economy as it is to our history," said Congressman Bill Keating, who represents Massachusetts's South Shore, South Coast, and Cape and Islands. "I will continue working with my Massachusetts colleagues to oppose efforts to list the North American lobster as an invasive species, including by working directly with our European counterparts in my role as Ranking Member of the Trade Subcommittee on the Foreign Affairs Committee."

“I respect Sweden’s commitment to protecting the environment from invasive species, but their proposal to halt imports of North American lobsters is not based on sound scientific reasoning,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. “The evidence they have presented is inconsistent with E.U. standards and I hope the State Department, the United States Trade Representative, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will continue to work together to advocate for the continued trade of live American lobsters with the E.U. A ban could have serious effects on our hardworking Massachusetts lobstermen and their families.”

"From the decks of Massachusetts lobster boats to the plates of European diners, we need to ensure American lobster continues to benefit families and businesses on both side of the Atlantic,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “The current effort by Swedish authorities to reclassify American lobsters an invasive species and ban their importation into the European Union would undermine a centuries-old relationship and have enormously negative impacts on the Massachusetts lobster industry. Any decision by the EU Commission on the American lobster should be informed by scientific principles and current standards. American lobster is one of our most delectable exports, and we should ensure that Europeans can continue to enjoy it for years to come."

"Lobsters are a big part of the Massachusetts economy, and I'm very concerned about any attempt to block imports of American lobsters. A ban on live lobster imports is not in line with the EU's standards or with the research conducted by New England's leading marine scientists on how best to protect the environment," Senator Elizabeth Warren said. "I'll keep working with the congressional delegation to support our local lobstermen and to keep the markets open for Massachusetts' lobsters."

"The European Union markets are extremely important to our commercial Lobstermen here in the Commonwealth,” said Beth Casoni, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. "We are appreciative and encouraged by the efforts being put forth by Congressmen Moulton, Keating, Lynch, and the entire Massachusetts Delegation to bring a resolve to this matter."