Fishy Business That Isn't Kosher

Scyllarides latus

Nicknamed in Hebrew "the Sea Cricket," the Scyllarides Latus is popularly called the Slipper Lobster. This clawless crustacean is not truly a lobster, nonetheless it is considered endangered and protected under Israeli law.

Recently, this rare sea creature has made a splash on Facebook and Instagram, photographed on dinner plates. This endangered shellfish is being served as an exotic delicacy in some Israeli restaurants.

The Slipper Lobster is a slow moving shellfish which makes it more susceptible to predators and hunting. While some chefs appreciate its endangered status and refuse to buy or serve these illegally procured fish, others ignore or are unaware of the condition of the Slipper Lobster's dwindling population. Governing bodies do not have the funds to patrol the restaurants where the Slipper Lobster's unique flavor can fetch high prices.

Many fisherman continue to catch the Slipper Lobster, despite the law, often taking advantage of the limited resources that the Israel Nature and Parks Authority has to protect Israel's marine nature reserves, such as that in Rosh Hanikra. The species acts as an indicator of environmental conditions, which is why it has been able to proliferate in the protected waters. Unfortunately, these waters are not protected enough. While one inspector was called away for military reserve duty, many local fisherman took the opportunity to plunder the nature reserve where rare and endangered fish, as well as the Slipper Lobster are abundant.

Fossil records of Slipper Lobsters date back over 100 million years. Prohibitions against fishing and eating lobster are not new to Israel, as consuming shellfish violates biblical law.

Although the plight of the Slipper Lobster is not as well known as that of the Sea Turtle, it is a valuable part of the natural Mediterranean habitat. Its endangered status demonstrates that it must continue to be protected or it may become extinct. Help SPNI keep the Slipper Lobster off menus and in the sea, don't order it.