Partnership enhancing stocks for vital local lobster fishery.

Lobster stocks off the Northumbrian coast will gain long-term benefits from the release of juveniles reared in the new Amble Lobster Hatchery, reports David Linkie.

Above: Power to Change colleagues Charlotte Cassedanne and Clare Duncan.

Lobsters caught on coastal grounds stretching some 60 miles from the River Tyne north to Berwick, are the single most valuable species landed by inshore fishermen in the region.

Recognising that lobsters continue to be the mainstay of traditional small fishing communities, including Holy Island, Seahouses and Amble, a number of local authorities and organisations came together to facilitate the Amble Lobster Hatchery – the establishment of which has been a long-term goal for many.

Key players in the project include Amble Development Trust (ADT), Northumberland Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (NIFCA), Power to Change, Big Lottery and Northumberland County Council.

Julia Aston, trust director of Amble Development Trust (which runs the hatchery) said: “Seeing eggs released from locally-caught berried female lobsters quickly turning into larvae and juvenile lobsters for return to the sea, really is a dream come true and one that represents a tremendous achievement by all involved.”

An initial feasibility study that paved the way for the hatchery, which included visits to lobster hatcheries at Padstow, North Berwick and in N Ireland, was supported by NIFCA and guided by scientists from Newcastle University.

NIFCA chief executive Mike Hardy said: “Amble Lobster Hatchery will build on the highly successful lobster V-notching scheme NIFCA have managed for 17 years. NIFCA will supply berried hens to the lobster hatchery, before returning them back to sea along with the juvenile lobsters.

Power to Change – an Independent Trust that supports communities in England by helping to make local businesses more sustainable – provided £180,000 of funding for the project.

Charlotte Cassedanne explained: “Power to Change recognised the important role inshore lobster fishing brings to rural communities in Northumberland. Helping the lobster hatchery will also help make local businesses more sustainable and bring long-term regeneration benefits to the area.

Todd Fish Tech designed and supplied the lobster pod storage and hatchery equipment in which the first brood of juvenile lobsters are now being reared, prior to being released into the sea off the Northumbrian coast.

In addition to its main focus of enhancing lobster stocks, Amble Lobster Hatchery – which is managed by Andrew Gooding – is designed to be as interactive, informative, and engaging as possible for all ages. Visitors can observe the whole process from the eggs hatching to the young lobsters being ready for release.

Northumberland Seafood Centre

Amble Lobster Hatchery is located in the Northumberland Seafood Centre. This was built as part of the Amble Harbour Village development; a vision created in 2013 through a partnership between Amble Development Trust, Northumberland County Council, Amble Town Council, Warkworth Harbour Commissioners, Amble Business Club and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Northumberland Seafood Centre is part of an initiative aiming to transform Amble into a visitor destination excelling in seafood, attracting new visitors, creating new jobs and helping to sustain the wider economy of the area.

In 2014, Northumberland County Council secured £1.8m of grant funding from the UK government’s Coastal Communities Fund to develop a new, small business village adjacent to Amble harbour.

The vision was built upon an economic, strategic need to build upon Amble’s natural resources and skills base to sustain and develop the local fishing fleet, develop new food businesses and make Amble a desirable tourism destination through creating a better harbour and improving the waterfront. Completed in March 2015, Amble Harbour Village provides visitors and locals with 15 individual retail ‘pods’ selling art, crafts, gifts, accessories, food and drink, and a Seafood Centre for the preparation and distribution of locally-caught seafood to local businesses and individuals.

The Northumberland Seafood Centre is a focal point of this ambitious vision for Amble. In much the same way as people sample local delicacies on a visit to Europe – by promoting a strong and highly distinctive regional brand that celebrates local fishermen and seafood – Northumberland Seafood will become synonymous with the concept of a premium product from Northumberland. The quality, fresh, seasonable, sustainable and local seafood offer will eloquently celebrate the county of Northumberland and its ‘independent spirit’.

By 2020, Northumberland Seafood aims to be the premier supplier of seafood in the region and in doing so will support a sustainable local fishing industry along the Northumberland coast.
The Northumberland Seafood Centre will support the viability and vitality of the Northumberland fishing community as a whole, and contribute an additional half a million pounds to visitor spend in the town of Amble by the year 2020.

The idea behind Northumberland Seafood is to source directly from local fishermen, taking the strain off overfished stocks and introducing customers to new types of delicious seafood. By building a base of seafood-savvy customers, Northumberland Seafood will be helping the local inshore fishing fleet remain sustainable whilst enabling customers to get their hands on a plentiful supply of fresh, seasonal and tasty locally-caught seafood.

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