American Lobster | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

American Lobster

Homarus americanus

Also known as

Atlantic lobster, true lobster, lobster

Distribution

Temperate waters of northwest Atlantic, from Labrador to North Carolina

Ecosystem/Habitat

Rocky reefs

Feeding Habits

Foraging predator

Conservation Status

Not listed

Taxonomy

Order Decapoda (crayfish, crabs, lobsters, shrimp); Family Nephropidae (clawed lobsters)

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American lobster, unlike most invertebrates, have teeth. However, these teeth aren’t located in their mouths – they are in their stomach. Their stomach chews food using what looks like molars, called a “gastric mill.” Lobster has not always been a sought-after seafood, in fact, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was so cheap that Americans used it as lawn fertilizer and fed it to prisoners and indentured servants. In Massachusetts, some servants fought against this by having it added to their contracts that they would not be feed lobster more than three times a week.  

Shellfish, such as lobster, clams, scallops and crab, bring in 77 per cent of the value of the Canada’s seafood landings. More than 10,000 licensed harvesters target lobster in 45 different lobster fishing areas.  All of the fisheries harvest lobster by trap, with the Gulf of Maine, Bay of Fundy, the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and coastal Nova Scotia supporting the most active fisheries. Lobster are typically caught in shallower, rocky regions, less than 40 metres deep; however the offshore fishery and those operating in the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine will harvest lobster much further from shore at depths of around 200 metres. The lobster fishery is highly regulated in Canada, with size limits (minimum and maximum limits), zero retention of egg-bearing females and strict fishing seasons, all with the goal of conserving the fishery and ensuring it will remain viable for years to come.

American lobster in Atlantic Canada is considered a sustainable option by some certifications, but there are concerns that the current high demand for this species could lead to overfishing and population decline.  More research is needed to ensure fisheries are sustainable and protecting the future of lobster populations as well as the health of the larger ecosystem.