European Union Invasive Species Issue

In 2016 Sweden proposed including Homarus americanus as an invasive alien species (IAS) on the EU’s list of IAS of Union concern. 

The LCC is working with other industry groups in both Canada and the United States and governments in both countries to ensure that live Homarus Americanus remains available in all European Union countries.  An example of some of the advocacy language used by Team Canada follows:

What are Canada’s preliminary views on the scientific aspects of the risk assessment?

Canada agrees that there is a need to protect and conserve biodiversity.
But, trade measures must be based on scientifically justified risk, to ensure WTO compliance.
Key concerns raised by Sweden’s risk assessment:

  • There is no evidence that Homarus americanus are invasive in Europe or anywhere else in the world:
  • Homarus americanus has not been successfully introduced into non-native areas despite efforts.
  • There is no evidence of established, self-sustaining populations in EU waters:
  • Almost 100 years of lobster trade but only rare and isolated findings of Homarus americanus.
  • No evidence that the species is able to successfully complete its life cycle and establish a population in EU waters, or anywhere else outside of native waters.
  • Notably, no juveniles have been found.
  • Important questions have been raised about methodology and conclusions:
  • Analysis requires more supporting information;
  • Many seemingly unsubstantiated assumptions are made;
  • Uncertainties and questions remain.

Risks can be mitigated

  • As noted by Sweden on page 81 of its assessment, “the largest risk of escape of lobsters is probably not that American lobsters escape from the holdings of the importers or the process industry. The largest problem is all the restaurants, fish dealers and other individuals who buy live lobsters from importers or in third hand.”
  • Accordingly, there are significant, effective measures already taken by Member States and importers alike to avoid the introduction of Homarus americanus in EU waters.
  • Any existing risks can be addressed proportionately by appropriate control measures and education on the risks to those buying live lobsters.  A ban is not appropriate.

The LCC continues to collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure that Canadian lobster remains off the list of invasive species.