Seafood Watch - Seafood Guide

Lobster, American

© Monterey Bay Aquarium
SEAFOODRATINGMARKET NAMESLOCATION/CERTIFICATIONHOW CAUGHT/FARMED
Lobster Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Lobster Marine Stewardship Council Certified Wild
Lobster, American Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Maine Lobster U.S. Gulf of Maine, U.S. Georges Bank Pot, Trap
Lobster, American Avoid: Avoid these products for now. These fish come from sources that are overfished or fished or farmed in ways that harm the environment. Maine Lobster U.S. Southern New England Pot, Trap
Lobster, California Spiny Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. California, Rock, Spiny California Traps
Lobster, California Spiny Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. California, Rock & Spiny Lobster Mexico Traps
Lobster, Caribbean Spiny Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Caribbean Spiny, Red & Warmwater Lobster Mexico Diver-caught
Lobster, Caribbean Spiny Avoid: Avoid these products for now. These fish come from sources that are overfished or fished or farmed in ways that harm the environment. Florida, Rock, Spiny & West Indian Spiny Lobster, West Indian Langouste Belize, Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua Diver-caught, Traps
Lobster, Caribbean Spiny Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Caribbean Spiny, Red & Warmwater Lobster Bahamas Diver-caught, Traps
Lobster, Caribbean Spiny Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Caribbean Spiny, Red & Warmwater Lobster Florida Traps


American Lobster, Pot & Trap

American lobster from the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank is a "Good Alternative," but "Avoid" lobster from Southern New England.

The Maine lobster trap fishery is certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Consumer Note

American lobster can come from throughout the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, but is also marketed as "Maine lobster."

Summary

American lobster, also known as Maine lobster, is found from Newfoundland, Canada to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. There are three U.S. fisheries - Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank and Southern New England. The vast majority of lobster is trap-caught, with a small fraction from trawl fisheries.

American lobster is a long-lived species - up to 100 years - and slow to mature; traits that make it vulnerable to overfishing. However, stock assessments show that northern lobster populations have been increasing steadily for the last twenty years. The Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank fisheries - which account for approximately 97% of all U.S. American lobster landings - are considered well managed, with healthy and abundant populations. The Southern New England lobster population, however, has been in a decline since the late 1990's and remained at depleted levels since then.

Bycatch is not often an issue in trap fisheries, however, this fishery is classified a Category I (high risk) by the National Marine Fisheries Service due to the risk to North Atlantic right whales - one of the most critically endangered whales in the world. Though the fishery is complying with all the regulations, whales continue to become entangled in lobster fishing gear, in large part because of the sheer volume of gear in the water.


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How fish are caught or farmed makes a difference. Fishing boat