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Sweden insists American lobsters represent real threat

Staff Writer | August 26, 2016
A team of Swedish scientists are carrying out research on the likely impact of American lobsters on the small population of the resource native to Sweden.
Threat   It is impossible to scientifically prove it
They insist they represent a threat even when they find it impossible to scientifically prove it.

According to their findings, American lobsters have mated with native species, which they deem dangerous enough to support banning imports of the lobsters as a precaution, Portland Press Herald reported.

“There is a major difference between assessing the likelihood that establishment will occur and assessing the risk,” the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management said in a report.

“Documented establishment in Europe is exactly what we want to avoid. The biggest difference between the North American reviews and the Swedish is how the precautionary principle is handled. … Prevention is generally more desirable than reaction after the fact,” it pointed out.

Meanwhile, lobster fishermen in the US have shown concern as at stake are more than USD 136 million in live lobster exports from Maine and Massachusetts to the EU.

Besides, the US Government has again claimed that the Swedish environmental assessment is rife with extrapolation, conjecture and anecdotes, and lacking the science needed to list a species as invasive under European Union regulations.

Scientists from Sweden, which is leading the campaign to ban the import of live American lobsters to the 28 countries that make up the EU, argue that the EU should not wait for proof that an invasion is actually underway before it takes action.

“The best time to stop an invasive species from taking over a new habitat is before it happens, not after, when eradication efforts are often expensive and rarely successful in turning an invader away, especially one as elusive as an underwater crustacean,” the scientists stressed in their report.

The study that has taken place in Norway found that American lobsters with hybrid eggs successfully hatched their eggs, producing the same size and number of eggs as a wild-caught American lobster found carrying pure eggs.

This suggests the egg-laying process and survival of eggs in North Atlantic waters seem not to be affected by temperature differences from North American lobsters.

The EU environment committee will rule next week on the invasive species issue.