A young lobster
The release of a further 2,000 juvenile lobsters into Scilly’s waters is good for our environment and our economy.
That’s the view of IFCA Officer Steve Watt, speaking yesterday as the latest batch of baby crustaceans arrived on the islands on board the Scillonian III.
They’re supplied by the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, which has had a long association with Scilly.
The islands contributed to the start up costs and pays a small amount towards the running each year.
Steve says they’ve been topping up stocks “pretty much every year” since 2001, shortly after the centre was opened by the former Cornwall Sea Fisheries to tackle declining stocks in the region.
But Steve rejects accusations that having to bring in new lobsters suggests our fisheries aren’t sustainable.
He says there are currently around 24 commercial boats operating successfully in our waters and the industry is “very buoyant.”
But more boats could decide to enter the business at any time and that could result in a decreased catch if stocks aren’t managed.
Adding new youngsters, which are just 3cm long and will take around 5 years to reach a catchable size, is a way of guaranteeing an income stream for all those who want to fish commercially in Scilly in the future.
“It’s good to be on the safe side,” says Steve.
Scilly supplies berried hens – female lobsters carrying eggs – to the hatchery so in some ways, he says, we’re just giving our own young lobsters a helping hand.
Most of them will never reach maturity as they get eaten by fish.
The juveniles were released yesterday afternoon near Bread and Cheese Cove off St Martin’s, by divers led by the IFCA’s Tim Allsop,
Steve says it’s got the best terrain, with plenty of boulders for the baby lobsters to hide under and avoid predators like Wrasse.
He says the programme has been very successful and is a great example of how grant money can help create employment and sustain an industry.