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Non-native species in English Waters

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American lobsters and Dungeness crab found near Brighton

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Following the discovery of a number of American lobsters (Homarus americanus) and Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister), both of which are non-native to the UK, in the sea off Brighton on the Sussex coast, the MMO and Cefas would like to thank the public, and particularly the fishing industry, for their vigilance and co-operation in helping to recover the animals.

It is an offence to release non-native species into UK waters under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The release of non-native species could pose a threat to native species and the wider marine environment. Once released, animals can quickly spread, establishing populations which threaten native animals by out competing them for food and shelter or by introducing diseases which our native animals have little resistance to. The loss of native animals as a result of the introduction of non-native species could seriously jeopardise commercial stock and, as a result, local businesses.

If the public, or any particular group, have reason to release native animals into the marine environment there may be methods by which this can be achieved within the regulations and with minimal risk to the marine environment.

The MMO and Cefas can provide advice on how to achieve this and it is important that they are contacted prior to any release.

Published 14 July 2015