American lobsters potentially pose a threat to European lobsters Photo: Marine ScotlandAmerican lobsters potentially pose a threat to European lobsters Photo: Marine Scotland

A campaign has launched in Scotland to help raise awareness of a non-native lobster species which is posing a threat to indigenous wildlife.

Marine Scotland is calling on people to report any American lobster (Homarus americanus) caught in UK waters. These animals cannot cross the Atlantic naturally and have appeared because people have released them, either deliberately or accidentally.

It is thought that American lobsters could have a negative impact on native European lobsters and other species by acting as a disease vector and by competing for food and potentially interbreeding. Marine Scotland is particularly interested in those lobsters not easily identified as they could potentially by hybrids.

American lobsters are similar to European lobsters with some noticeable differences. They are stockier than European lobsters and have one of more spines on the underside of the ‘nose’ (rostrum), a feature absent in those in Europe. Unlike European lobsters which are blue, American lobsters are usually green/brown with orange, red, dark green or black speckling. They also have red-tipped spines on the rostrum rather than white.

Anyone who believes they have caught an American lobsters is asked to contact their local Marine Scotland Compliance Fishery Officers, stating when and where the lobster was caught, size and sex, whether it was carrying eggs or had banded claws. Photographs of the whole animal, the underside of the claws and the rostrum are the minimum required to confirm the report.

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