By now the press has made quite a coverage about the potential ban of live lobster importation into the European market, and this threat as created some turmoil on the East Coast fisheries. This story came out in the industry press in March 2016 and was relayed by the Canadian and in the American press. By May 2016 the story has spread to the local press in the different fishing communities along the Canadian and American East Coast, such as Boston, as well as to major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and the National Post.
What make this issue complex is that the call to ban this shellfish comes from different voices and for different reasons.
First there is the case of the North American Lobster being an invasive species in the European seas. The fact that many European have placed the North American Lobster (Homarus americanus) in their invasive species list is not a new story. The Lobster is on Norway’s invasive species list at least since 2012. It is also on the Sweden list at least since 2013 and on Great Britain’s one since at least 2015. But it was still legal to import this live shellfish in these countries. The invasive aspect is backed by scientific arguments that are challenged and discussed from each side of the Atlantic. Sweden has moved this issue to the front line at least since February 2014 when they announced that they would “supports the efforts to stop the import of living American lobsters” in Europe. So the North American Lobster fishery should have seen his problem coming long before this year’s announcements, based on these information.
The issues of Lobster ending up in the European waters and of the ban are also an effect of the fight of the animal rights group. In 2015, such a group made the headlines with their “attack” on a Dublin seafood restaurant to “free” live Lobsters. The animals were released to the open sea. Groups like Peta, the Shellfish Network and the Albert Schweitzer Foundation, among others, are fighting against either the consumption or the “inhumane” cooking of live Lobster and contribute in their own ways to the European ban effort. For example, in 2013, the Albert Schweitzer Foundation put pressure on German supermarkets to ban the selling of live Lobster. Ironically, by releasing specimen in open sea, these groups also contribute to the invasion of the Lobster in their own countries seas.
The reason why this issue was brought back to media in spring 2016, by countries like Sweden, is most likely related to the fact that the European Union was to adopt its first list of invasive alien species in the upcoming July 2016. There is a strong possibility that Sweden and Norway were lobbying the European Union to go for the ban, which would have most likely favor their own lobster fishery industry. But the Homarus Americanus Lobster was finally not on the list.