Earlier this month, Sweden announced it was attempting to ban imports of live Maine lobster because someone had found a few specimens of Homarus americanus in local waters. The discovery had ignited fears of the New England/Canadian stock outcompeting the local lobster stock and introducing shell disease.

Naturally, this prompted an immediate response from the industry in Maine, where lobster is the bread and butter for thousands of households and we take great pride in its sustainability, management and wholesome image. (Lesson: If you’re going to malign our state crustacean you better come correct.) How were these lobsters really finding themselves in Swedish waters? Given that they were found with bands on their claws, probably not in a great migration. Yes, the chances are pretty good that these bugs were “liberated” by well-meaning animal rights activists who were also woefully ignorant of marine environmental concerns.

Now I know that an infestation of lobsters hardly seems like a problem worth complaining about to most seafood lovers, but invasive species is a topic we should take seriously.

Which is why it’s utterly laughable and cringeworthy that in the next breath, European news outlets were practically singing the praises of Iain Stewart, a Scottish man who purchased a lobster from a live tank at a local restaurant and set it free just north of Glasgow on Scotland’s West Coast.

He was so proud of himself, he posted a video of himself freeing his snappy little friend on YouTube. Which he then took down when the comments veered from Rah-rah to WTF? Luckily, the Glasgow Evening Times took screen shots before the video was removed.

While it’s hard to tell for sure if the “lucky lobster” is a specimen of H. americanus (it appears to have the tell-tale red hue of a New England lobster), there’s no mention of Stewart’s confirming the species before setting it free.

People, please, if you want to be Lobster Liberators, you should consider more than the retail cost of the bug you’re buying and factor in the expense of a one-way ticket back across the pond. Before digging into your savings to free Pinchy in the most ecologically sound way (though the carbon footprint of the return flight may also give you pause), you might ask yourself if you would be so kind to a cockroach, because they’re no more or less sentient than the lobster. They just don’t happen to taste as good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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