Canada and the U.S. export the same species of lobster to Europe — the American lobster, known for its big, meaty claws and popularity with summer tourists to the northeastern New England states.
Exporters started shipping large amounts of lobster to Europe in the early 1980s when airspace became available, but it has been a popular food item on the continent for centuries.
Some in the American lobster industry suspect European exports will be more than 25 percent lower this year. The recent trend reflects the deepening of a longer slide in the amount of lobster the U.S. is exporting to Europe, where supermarkets rely on the crustaceans to draw shoppers around the holidays.
Export shipments of live and frozen lobster from the U.S. to Spain was valued at more than $63 million in 2007, but fell to less than $40 million last year. In Italy, American lobster imports fell nearly a fifth to less than 8.2 million pounds (3.7 million kilograms) last year.
Consumers farther east are making up for it. American lobster exports to China climbed from $2.1 million in 2009 to more than $90 million in last year, federal statistics show.