Controls on the import of American lobsters (Homarus americanus) are in place to prevent the introduction and spread of the infectious disease Gaffkaemia, causative agent Aerococcus viridans. American lobsters are carriers of the infection and are capable of transmitting Gaffkaemia to native wild indigenous populations of European lobsters (Homarus gammarus). Outbreaks have occasionally occurred historically in Scotland within commercial tank facilities holding European lobsters prior to sale, generally where they have been associated with American lobsters. If an outbreak occurs, powers are in place to contain and control the disease. Gaffkaemia has not, to date, been found in the wild in Scottish waters and is not considered to affect human health.
In order to minimise this risk licences are required to deposit live or dead lobsters:
- in any tidal waters or
- in any inland waters flowing into tidal waters or
- on any land or premises within one mile of these tidal or inland waters.
A licence to deposit is required whether the lobsters are from elsewhere in Great Britain, from the EU or from a third country.
An individual licence is required for:
- European lobsters which are to be kept in water tanks or systems that contain or have held American lobsters and have not been disinfected and which are not intended solely for consumption on the premises or processed in any way
- American lobsters which are not intended solely for consumption on the premises or processed in any way
General licences have been issued for:
- deposits of European lobsters providing they are not kept in storage tanks or water systems that contain or have held American lobsters and have not been disinfected
- deposits of European or American lobsters which are intended solely for consumption on the premises - Lobster Deposit General Licence Consumption
- deposits of European or American lobsters which have been processed in any way
There is no need for holders of lobsters to apply for general licences for deposits in these categories.
Releasing species outwith their native range (or ‘non-native species’) is an offence in Scotland. Additionally some species, including crayfish and some fish, cannot be kept without a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). There is more information on which species can’t be kept on the Scottish Government Non-Native Species webpages.
If you are in any doubt as to whether a species is outwith its native range in any part of Scotland, or whether you need a licence for any activity such as keeping or trapping, you can find more information on the SNH website.