By Andy Hargreaves

A tag placed on the back of a spiny lobster

A tag placed on the back of a spiny lobster

Scilly’s Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority is leading the way with a plan to track spiny lobsters.

In a first-of-its-kind study in Europe, the IFCA team will use special electronic tags supplied by the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth to observe how far the crustacea, also known as crayfish, can travel and the conditions they encounter.

In a report given to the IFCA meeting on Tuesday, Marine Officer Doug Holt said the sixteen tiny sensors, valued at £325 each, will be attached to the back of the animals.

They’ll allow up to two million individual readings to be stored, such as temperature, light and depth. This can be read back when the lobster is recaptured.

Local fishermen and divers will be used to collect animals for tagging and the study should show whether the same crayfish come back to Scilly from year to year.

Spiny lobster have become a valuable catch for fishermen in UK waters, but little is known about their migratory patterns.

Doug said the data would enhance the existing survey of lobsters and spiny lobsters around Scilly, which is entering its third year.

The team has recruited more volunteers this season and are hoping to tag up to 3,400 more animals.