Threat posed to native stocks 07 July, 2010 –
THE Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has helped fishermen at Selsey on the English south coast to publicise a problem they are having with non-native American lobsters.
The fishermen think that the larger and more agressive have been illegally released into the sea.Five of the bigger and more aggressive American species, Homarus americanus, which can carry a bacterial blood disease, gaffkaemia, have been caught in pots in recent weeks. The fear is that valuable stocks of the high quality native European lobster could be threatened.MMO Chair, Chris Parry, discussed the issue with fishermen on a visit to Selsey on July 1. The MMO alerted media and Chris later appeared on BBC TV South Tonight, BBC Radio Solent and gave interviews to local papers and to the Sunday Express.There is a maximum penalty of £5,000 and/or two years’ imprisonment for releasing non-native lobsters into the wild under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.One theory is that mis-guided animal lovers released them believing they were doing good.The MMOs Shoreham office is monitoring the situation and keeping marine scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) informed.District Marine Officer, Paul Johnson said As a result of the publicity, people have already come forward with possible sources of the illegal release of these lobsters.Anyone with information should contact the MMOs Shoreham office on 01273 424 849. It will be treated in the strictest confidence.Further information: www.efishbusiness.co.uk/controls/lobster-deposit-order.asp