Invasive American Lobster- Retain and Report

Marine Scotland have launched a campaign to help raise awareness of American lobster (Homarus americanus), which are being found in Scotland. The animals are considered as an ‘invasive non-native species’ as they are not naturally found in Scotland and they pose a threat to our native wildlife.

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.

Identification

American lobsters are similar to European lobsters in appearance but there are some noticeable differences:

  • American lobsters are more stocky in appearance than European lobsters
  • Colouration varies but American lobsters are usually green/brown with orange, red, dark green or black speckling, while – European lobsters are blue in colour
  • The underside of the claws of an American lobster are orange, while those of a European lobster are cream coloured
  • American lobsters have one or more spines (ventral teeth) on the underside of the ‘nose’ (rostrum), a feature which is absent in European lobsters
  • The spines on the rostrum of the American lobster tend to have red tips, while those on the European lobster are white tipped

Why we need your help

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.

Reporting

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.