Lobster

Lobster

California spiny lobster, © Amadeo Bachar

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-Caribbean spiny lobster (U.S.)
Best
Moderate

MORE ABOUT CARIBBEAN SPINY LOBSTER

Sometimes called a crawfish but not to be confused with the freshwater crawfish, the Caribbean spiny lobster is covered with spines (hence its name), which repel predators. The spiny lobster has two pairs of antennae, one of which, also spine-covered, can be longer than its body. It does not have claws like the Northern lobster.

Commercial Sources

Caribbean spiny lobsters are found in the western Atlantic, from North Carolina to Rio the Janeiro in Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

The main sources of Caribbean spiny lobsters are Cuba, the Bahamas, Brazil and Nicaragua. Caribbean spiny lobsters sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Brazil, the Bahamas, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Capture Methods

Caribbean spiny lobsters come from coastal fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with pots and traps. Additional types of fishing gear include bottom trawls, dip nets, handlines and spears; they are also handpicked.

+-Spiny Lobster
Best
Moderate

MORE ABOUT SPINY LOBSTER

Also called a rock lobster, the California spiny lobster's sharp points offer good protection from predators, so much so that it is advisable to wear gloves when handling one of these lobsters. It has two pairs of antennae, one longer than its body.

Commercial Sources

California spiny lobsters are found in the eastern North Pacific, from San Luis Obispo in California to Rosalia Bay in Baja California, Mexico.

The main sources of California spiny lobsters are the United States and Canada.

Capture Methods

California spiny lobsters come from coastal fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with pots and traps. Additional types of fishing gear include trammel nets and trawls.

+-American/Maine lobster
OK
Moderate

MORE ABOUT AMERICAN/MAINE LOBSTER

The Northern or Maine lobster is known for its mismatched claws. The larger is used for cracking or crushing prey (such as other shellfish or mollusks), and the smaller for tearing edible chunks.

Commercial Sources

American lobsters are found in the western North Atlantic, from Labrador to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.

The main sources of American lobsters are Canada and the United States.

Capture Methods

American lobsters come from costal fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with pots and traps. Additional types of fishing gear include bottom trawls and gillnets.

+-Caribbean spiny lobster (imported)
Worst
Moderate

MORE ABOUT CARIBBEAN SPINY LOBSTER

Sometimes called a crawfish but not to be confused with the freshwater crawfish, the Caribbean spiny lobster is covered with spines (hence its name), which repel predators. The spiny lobster has two pairs of antennae, one of which, also spine-covered, can be longer than its body. It does not have claws like the Northern lobster.

Commercial Sources

Caribbean spiny lobsters are found in the western Atlantic, from North Carolina to Rio the Janeiro in Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

The main sources of Caribbean spiny lobsters are Cuba, the Bahamas, Brazil and Nicaragua. Caribbean spiny lobsters sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Brazil, the Bahamas, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Capture Methods

Caribbean spiny lobsters come from coastal fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with pots and traps. Additional types of fishing gear include bottom trawls, dip nets, handlines and spears; they are also handpicked.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
Caribbean spiny lobster (U.S.) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 3
Spiny Lobster Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 3
American/Maine lobster Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 3
Caribbean spiny lobster (imported) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 3
Eco details: 

Most species of lobster are caught in pots or traps that are designed to reduce bycatch and habitat damage.

American (Maine) lobster populations are growing in many areas, although the small inshore Southern New England fishery has been in decline for a number of years.

Given the sheer volume of gear in the water, gear entanglements with endangered North Atlantic right whales are still a concern.

Caribbean and California spiny lobsters are managed by strong regulations in the U.S. But most spiny lobster is imported from nations with poor management.