A group of Buddhist monks from Canada have saved the lives of a large number of lobsters, buying them from various vendors around Eastern Canada's Prince Edward Island.

While the crustaceans had been destined for the cooking pot, the monks, from the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society, instead took them back out to sea.

A spokesman for the monks, Venerable Dan, told CBC News that the lobster rescue mission was not intended as a comment on people's dietary choices, but rather was about compassion.

"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 monks held a special prayer ceremony before releasing the lobsters, captured on film by CBC's Jessica Doria-Brown.

The monks said local people around Prince Edward Island had supported their project, with fisherman helping them find a suitable spot to release the lobsters, so they wouldn't be immediately recaptured.

"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."