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I was reading the paper the other day while half-listening to the news being reported on the radio. The reporter was saying something about Sweden wanting to ban the importing of Maine lobster. My first thought was: why would the small Oxford County town of Sweden (pop.391) want to ban the importing of Maine’s most famous product? What do they have against lobsters and how many lobsters are we talking about, anyway?
Well, after a Google search I eventually learned that the good folks of the town of Sweden weren’t seeking to ban the importing of Maine lobster. I also learned that the Aroostook County town of New Sweden had no plans to ban lobsters either. And after a few phone calls, I learned that the controversy has nothing to do with Maine’s two Swedens but that other Sweden, from which our two Swedens get their names.
Some Swedish official claims that our delicious Maine lobsters are parasite-carrying, disease-spreading invasive aliens threatening to breed infertile hybrids and destroy the local lobster species. Gee, why doesn’t he tell us how he really feels. We don’t even say things like that when describing our summer complaints to the south.
You know someone is serious when they throw in some Latin lingo. This Swedish official refers to lobsters - at one point - as “Homarus mericanus .”
Not only do they want to ban Homarus americanus from Sweden, they also want to ban our tasty lobsters from the 28 countries of the European Union.
One of the biggest opponents of the ban on Maine lobsters are European chefs who say their patrons don’t like the thin scrawny Swedish lobsters but much prefer the meaty Maine lobster.
And It’s not like an army of a million Maine lobsters decided to march together across the ocean bottom from Down East Maine to the waters off Sweden, just to “bug” the Swedes. In the past ten years only a few dozen Maine lobsters have been caught in waters off Sweden.
If the EU decided to ban the importing of Maine lobsters it could cost Maine lobsterman $11 million a year. That would not be good. In fact it would be bad.
I guess our lobstermen could try and ban the importing of Volvos into the US but Volvo is no longer a Swedish company. It is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Ahejiang Geely Holding Group in China, so things could get tricky if that plan was adopted.
What would happen if credit-card toting American tourists – to support Maine lobstermen – decided to stay away from Sweden and, instead, spend their Yankee dollars in Ireland, Italy or Israel.
And things could go downhill fast for Maine’s lobstermen. The Swedish scientists and politicians who will help decide on whether or not to ban the importing of Maine lobsters will meet in June. Then they will have lots of meetings with the many bureaucrats who run the EU. If all these officials act like they’re supposed to, they’ll be meeting and talking for at least another twenty years.

John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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