Why are there no lobsters in the Pacific?

14 March 2010

Question

I live in California. I like lobsters. Why are there lots of lobsters in the Atlantic and none in the Pacific. Could they be introduced here and thrive, if not why not.

Answer

Helen - Well, I'm afraid in fact that there are lobsters in the Pacific. In fact, there are various different species of spiny lobsters which don't have big claws like the American lobster, Homerus americanus, which does have big claws. That's one from the Atlantic but there are some spiny lobsters including the California or red rock lobster, Panulirus interruptus, and there's also one called the green spiny lobster, and they do live on the Pacific, from California, down through into to Peru and out into the Pacific as far as the Galapagos Islands. There are various species that do live there. I assume when you say you like lobsters, you like to eat them, and that's fair enough - they can be quite tasty, but some populations of lobsters around the world are very heavily fished and therefore, aren't lots of them around for us to carry on eating. And that could well be the case in California for some of these species. Although in fact, down in Mexico, in Baja California, there is a fishery for the red rock lobster which, about five years ago, was labelled as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. This means that fishermen down there are keeping within sustainable catch levels so there should still be a healthy population in years to come. So if you do want to eat Pacific lobsters, I would definitely send you to Mexico to try out the red rock lobsters down there.

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