Cornish fishing industry

Working with The National Lobster Hatchery

lobster hatchery

The National Lobster Hatchery is working together with Wing of St Mawes to help safeguard the future of our marine resources and the many livelihoods they support.

So who are we? The National Lobster Hatchery is a pioneering marine conservation, research and education charity. Our work focuses upon a novel form of managing our living marine resources, that compliments existing fisheries management tools and takes an interventional approach to conserving our vulnerable lobster populations. In more simple terms; this work is all about ensuring that our children and future generations have the tools to restock over exploited stocks or to make existing fisheries more productive.

Our work at the NLH has three main charitable outputs:

I. Conservation
We operate a stocking programme for the European Lobster within our inshore waters. This involves raising juvenile lobsters through their most vulnerable stages, then releasing them into the wild once they have reached a stage in their lifecycle when they are better able to survive. A female lobster on average will usually carry in the region of 20,000 eggs, yet in the wild only one of these is expected to survive. Our innovative techniques improve this survival rate by around 1,000 times. The diagram below shows you the fascinating lifecycle of The European Lobster (Homarus Gammarus). It is from the Early Benthic Phase onwards that we release the juveniles back into the sea; when we know they will live under rocks and sediment, rather than staying suspended in the water as an easy target for predators.

II. Research
We conduct pioneering research that aims to assess the impact of our stocking programme and further develop stocking and culture techniques.

III. Education
Our education programme aims to raise awareness of fisheries sustainability issues and their potential solutions, helping to encourage a more responsible and sustainable approach to seafood at every level of the chain. It’s important to know that we all have a part to play in helping to sustain our seafood stocks; from sourcing right through to consumption.

Since opening the NLH has released approximately 174,000 lobsters into the sea and nearly 1/2 million visitors have been educated about sustainability issues associated with fisheries. Our work is becoming increasingly important, not just to the UK but as a model for fisheries management worldwide.

So why is our work so important? Well more than 75% of the world’s fish stocks are either fully exploited, over exploited, depleted or recovering. The world’s human population is expanding rapidly and there has never been as much pressure on the world’s fish stocks. The work of the NLH focuses on the European lobster as this native species is worth a huge amount, both economically and socially. Their high value, combined with low recruitment success and intense fishing pressure means they are vulnerable to stock collapse. In fact lobster stocks in Scandinavia already collapsed in the 1960’s and have failed to recover to this day. There is no doubt we need to take action and that we desperately need new approaches to managing our living marine resources. The work of the National Lobster Hatchery represents exactly that.

Our charitable work is incredibly important and also extremely exciting. We are already established as a Centre of Excellence for Lobster Science and our research is cited all around the world. We could not continue and advance our work however without the support of responsible, forward thinking individuals that understand and appreciate the work we do. This is why the support of Wing of St Mawes and their customers means so much; not just to the charity but to the many livelihoods and communities that would struggle to exist without our native ocean resources.

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