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European Business Sweden not giving up fight with Canada, U.S. over lobster imports

Swedish officials say they are working on a new proposal on how to deal with an influx of American lobsters in their waters.

Robert Bukaty/AP

Sweden isn't giving up on a long-running battle with the United States and Canada over lobsters that have turned up in Swedish waters.

Officials with Sweden told the Associated Press that their country is working on a new proposal about how to deal with American lobsters that have turned up. A controversy about whether American lobsters are invasive in Swedish waters has simmered for almost a year.

Sweden had wanted the European Union to consider a ban of imports of American lobsters. That call came after Sweden announced it had found 32 American lobsters in its waters.

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EU officials turned away that request in October after U.S. and Canadian scientists and politicians raised concerns about a lack of evidence that the lobsters warranted such a sweeping ban. But Swedish officials told the AP that the country remains concerned that American lobsters could interfere with European lobsters, which have economic value.

"We are preparing a new proposal on national and regional measures on the American lobster that will be presented for the Swedish government this winter," said Sofia Brockmark, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.

Ms. Brockmark and other Swedish officials did not provide more specifics about Sweden's upcoming proposal, other than that it will address invasive lobsters with countrywide and regional measures as opposed to an international ban.

Maine is the biggest lobster fishing state in the United States, and the New England lobster industry dug in against Sweden's proposed ban. The U.S. sends about $150-million (U.S.) in lobster to the EU annually. Canada also sells the same species of lobster to Europe.

Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association, said her organization is working with others in the industry, as well as American and Canadian government agencies, to help prevent American lobsters from escaping into the wild in Europe.

The European Union is of the opinion that the issue now lies with Sweden, said Iris Petsa, a spokeswoman for the EU's European Commission. She said the country would still need to notify the European Commission before applying restrictions on national trade.

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