Buddhists Fined Over $20,000 For Releasing Invasive Species Into Sea In Life Release Ritual


Katy Evans


Katy Evans

Managing Editor

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor


Two Buddhists have been fined £15,000 (over $20,000) for releasing crabs and lobsters into the sea during a “life release” ritual in the seaside resort of Brighton in the south of England.

Unfortunately, the crustaceans they released were American shellfish, non-native to the region and with the potential to cause significant damage to the local environment and threaten local wildlife.


The government has so far spent around £18,000 trying to round the sea creatures up, although they’ve only caught about half so far.

In 2015, Buddhists Ni Li and Zhixiong Li, a city banker and estate agent, respectively, were part of a group who chartered three boats to travel into the English Channel off the coast of Brighton and throw the live sea creatures “back” into the sea.

These included a reported 361 Amercian lobsters and 350 American Dungeness crabs.

This beastie is an American Dungeness crab, one of the American invaders of British shores. Clayton Harrison/Shutterstock

In Buddhism, all life is sacred. A “life release” ritual is a Buddhist tradition where the lives of creatures set for slaughter are saved and released back into the wild. Often the animals are bought directly from slaughterhouses or fishermen.


Li and Li reportedly bought the crustaceans from a wholesale fish supplier in London, intending to set them free in the sea.

“Ni Li said they had been intended to be released as part of a Buddhist ceremony with no intention to harm them,” said Joseph Miller, prosecutor for the Marine Management Organisation, according to The Argus

“Miss Li then lied to investigators saying she hadn’t realised the crabs and lobsters were foreign species and had taken them back home and kept them in a bath of saltwater. She later admitted she had made up the story.” 

This is believed to be the first case of its kind in the UK. The pair has admitted to wildlife offenses and accepted the fine.


We get it. People don’t want to to see or take part in animal cruelty, and they think setting animals free is the kindest or the right thing to do.

But occasionally a misguided attempt causes more harm than good. We’ve previously reported on animal rights activists who stole a penguin from a zoo in South Africa and set it free, where it, and subsequently its two chicks, died.

Or the baby bison that kind-hearted but ultimately damage-inducing people rescued and put in their car in Yellowstone because it “looked cold”. When rangers tried to reintroduce it to the herd it was sadly rejected and had to be put down.

In all these cases, there have been no bad intentions, but not thinking the repercussions through can ultimately end up causing more harm than good. 


[H/T: The Guardian]


  • tag
  • crustaceans,

  • crabs,

  • lobster,

  • fine,

  • buddhism,

  • life release ritual,

  • brighton,

  • misguided activism