The case of two London Buddhists fined for releasing crustaceans into the sea has thrown the spotlight on a ritual that involves hundreds of millions of wild animals – and a huge industry built around their capture and supply

It was intended as a Buddhist act of mercy and compassion, but ended in a criminal conviction and significant environmental risk. The release of hundreds of alien lobsters and crabs into the sea off Brighton has highlighted the perils of a ritual that takes kindness to animals too far.

Two London Buddhists, Zhixiong Li, 30, and Ni Li, 33, pleaded guilty last week at Brighton magistrates court to breaking the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 by releasing non-native species into the wild, causing “untold damage” to marine life. The pair were ordered to pay a total of more than £28,000 in fines and compensation.

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