Europe trade deal could boost spring lobster season

Canada's free trade deal with Europe is only steps away from being ratified in Ottawa, and the Lobster Council of Canada is telling exporters to get ready.

When CETA is passed an eight per cent tariffs on live lobster shipped to Europe will immediately disappear, and could happen as soon as May 1, the day the spring lobster season on P.E.I. opens.

Lobster industry officials in Maine are worried that the disappearance of those tariffs, while tariffs on U.S. lobster remain, could eat into their exports.

"For the lobster sector it will mean tariff free access to 27 countries in Europe over the next number of years," said Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.

"[That] will give us, hopefully, an advantage in that market as we compete against other seafood products and other proteins in a market that has 500 million people."

Irvine said Canada currently ships about $66 million worth of live lobster to Europe a year. The tariffs on frozen and processed lobster will drop gradually over the next three to five years.

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