A campaign has launched to help raise awareness of American lobster.
A campaign has launched to help raise awareness of American lobster (Homarus americanus).
The animals are considered as an invasive non-native species as they are not indigenous to Scotland and they pose a threat to the native wildlife.
Every year Marine Scotland and other UK administrations receive a small number of reports of American lobster being caught in UK waters. These animals cannot cross the Atlantic naturally and therefore have appeared because people have released them, either deliberately or accidentally.
Marine Scotland is calling on people to report any American lobsters caught in our waters to have a true picture of where the animals are, in what quantities and if they are breeding.
American lobsters are similar to European lobsters in appearance but there are some noticeable differences:
It is thought that American lobsters could have a negative impact on native European lobsters and other species in the marine environment, by acting as a disease vector, competing for food and shelter and potentially interbreeding. Currently we do not have enough evidence to state with certainty how much of a threat this is, so it is important that any suspected American lobsters are reported so they can be verified by Marine Scotland.
If you think you have caught an American lobster, please contact the local Marine Scotland Compliance Fishery Officers, who will assist with collection of this data. A sample will be taken and sent for scientific analysis, and further advice provided as needed.
Please report any suspected American lobsters to your local Marine Scotland Compliance Fishery Office or the UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre at 0131 271 9700 or via email at UKFMC@gov.scot.
It is legal to land and sell or consume any American lobsters you catch, however it is illegal to release them into the wild in UK waters. The knowledge and data gained from reports of any non-native lobsters is essential to aid future decision making and policies aimed at protecting the Scottish marine ecosystem.
We especially want to hear about those lobsters not easily identified as they could potentially be hybrids of American and European lobsters.
There is no link between Gaffkaemia in lobsters and foot and mouth disease in cattle. In the former disease, the causative agent is a bacteria, in the latter a virus. It should also be noted that there is an extremely low known incidence of American lobster (Homarus americanus) in Scottish waters, and therefore the risk to native lobster (Hommarus gammarus) is also currently very low.
The Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) aim to improve the management of inshore fisheries in the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Scottish waters, and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments.