American lobster – the invasive problem

Sweden has called for the American lobster (Homarus americanus) to be put on the EU list of invasive species, the Guardian reported on the 18th of March.

This is for three reasons: the American lobster carries several contagious diseases that could spread to native populations of the European lobster
(Homarus gammarus); it is a hardy species that can travel long distances and can compete for food and shelter with the native lobster; and there is
a risk of hybridisation with the native lobster which may result in negative genetic effects with consequences for Swedish and other European stocks.

Invasive species are the hot topic at the moment and Sweden is the latest country to voice its concerns over the invasion of its shores by unwanted organisms.

The American lobster is considered to be a high risk species by the Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat precisely for the reasons listed by the
Swedes. They consider that individuals have gained access to the natural marine environment by escaping from their holding tanks or through deliberate
release, including being discarded from boats, by animal activists and by well intentioned individuals unaware of the environmental consequences of
releasing these animals into the wild.

With the incoming Ballast Water Management Convention, and the target of reaching Good Environmental Status by 2020, as enshrined in the Marine Strategy
Framework Directive, countries are under pressure to show that they are responding to and managing these threats.


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