More than 600 pounds (272kg) of lobsters have been spared the pot thanks to a liberation project arranged by a group of Buddhist monks in Canada.
The monks, from the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society, bought the lobsters from various sources around Prince Edward Island in Eastern Canada, before taking them out to sea.
Taking the lobsters on board a fishing boat, the monks released them back into the ocean off the coast of Wood Islands, a small fishing community on the south of Prince Edward Island.
Venerable Dan, a spokesman for the monks involved, said the purpose of the mission was to “cultivate compassion”, not just for the lobsters, but for all human beings.
Speaking to CBA news before the crustaceans were released, he said he hoped the group would “find a spot where there are no cages waiting for them”.
“We respect everyone’s dietary choice, so we’re not doing this to convert everybody to be vegetarians or vegans,” he said.
“This whole purpose for us is to cultivate this compassion toward others. It doesn’t have to be lobsters, it can be worms, flies, any animals, drive slower so we don’t run over little critters on the street.”
The Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society has lived on Prince Edward Island for the past eight years. Hundreds of monks travel to the island from Asia each year to study Buddhism in their monastery all year round.
Before releasing the lobsters, the monks held a 20-minute ceremony with a prayer and chant to the Buddha of compassion.
According to the group, islanders — including fisherman — have supported the cause, even helping to find the monks a better place to release the animals so they wouldn’t be captured again.
“If your loved ones were in this situation, what would they like you to do?” said Venerable Dan. “To give them a helping hand and put them back to where they feel comfortable and we believe if everybody’s able to do that, it will become a better place, a more harmonic place.”