CANADIAN lobsters have been found off the Yorkshire coast - after being thrown back in the sea by well-meaning passengers taking pity on their dinner aboard cruise ships.
The lobster, homarus americanus, normally found thousands of miles away off the Atlantic coast of North America occasionally finds its way into the pots of local fishermen.
Scientists at the University of Hull have said they will examine any that are found in future to see if they carry disease that could be a threat to the native population found in the UK’s biggest lobster fishery after the issue was raised at a meeting.
Skipper Gary Redshaw last found one two years ago 50 to 60 miles east of Bridlington.
He said: “In the past we have heard one officer on the watch talking to another on the cruise ship saying some of the passengers were going to buy lobsters and release them, thinking they were doing good.
“But in fact they can do a lot of damage. I think it’s a good idea to study them as they could be giving English lobsters a disease.”
Finds of the Canadian lobster, whose closest relative is the European lobster, homarus gammarus, are rare, and laboratory tests have shown that while the different species will mate their offspring are infertile.
Mike Cohen, from Holderness Fishing Industry Group, said: “We think the most likely route is that they are getting thrown overboard from cruise ships. People buy lobster for dinner, feel sorry for it and ask the waiter to chuck it over.
“In the grand scheme of things that’s a very small level of re-introduction.”