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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
Norway hunts down American lobsters
US female lobsters could carry up to 5,000 eggs to Norway
An aquarium in Norway has offered a 1,000 Norwegian Kroner ($137) reward for every American lobster caught in Norwegian waters in an attempt to prevent a transatlantic crustacean invasion.

The aquarium director in Bergen, Kees Ekeli, told the BBC that American lobsters - which are bigger and spinier then their European cousins - were a potential source of lobster pest.

Mr Ekeli also said that the presence of American lobsters had already badly depleted stocks of European lobster.

The bounty would be on top of a payment of 350 Kroner per kilogramme ($48) which local fish shops pay for a lobster - making it one of the most expensive seafood delicacies.

"It's a very generous price," Mr Ekeli said.

"We could spend our whole budget, but we only expect about 10-20 to be given in. If it turns out to be 1,000, then we'll be broke but we'll be doing a good thing."

The aquarium's offer coincides with a survey suggesting that imported American lobsters have spread from Oslo, in the south, far up the Norwegian coast. Fourteen American lobsters have been caught off Norway since 1999.

"Our fear is that American lobsters can only mate when they change their shell, which they do when they're younger. If they mate in the US and then come to Norway two years' later, the females could bring as many as 5,000 eggs with them," says Mr Ekeli.

Some experts believe that they escaped from cages after being imported from the US state of Maine and placed in shallow waters to keep them fresh before boiling.

However, restaurateurs in Norway are quoted as saying that the indigenous lobster is far superior in taste to the American variety.


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