The Whitby Lobster is celebrating after releasing its first batch of juvenile lobsters

A project aiming to release 100,000 juvenile lobsters each year has released its first batch into the sea near Whitby, reports Paul Scott. The Whitby Lobster Hatchery kickstarted its campaign with the initial release of 50 juvenile lobsters at Saltwick Bay.

Staff from the hatchery, the fishing community, local business owners and the town’s mayor were in attendance for the inaugural release.

The charity says that the project aims to ‘ensure a healthy marine environment and a protected and sustainable fishing community for future generations’.

Councillor Linda Wild, mayor of Whitby, said the release was even more important following the recent incidents of dead crustaceans washing up along the North East coast. “It’s just the right time for our release of the juvenile lobster,” she said.

Calling the crustacean deaths ‘a disaster that has unfolded on our coast’, she said that moving forward, the hatchery ‘will help to replenish the seas with lobster for the future’.

Rearing juvenile lobster in the hatchery ensures a higher level of early life survival. The lobsters are released into the sea once they pass their vulnerable larval stage.

Local lobster merchant Terry Pearson of Lobstore Ltd said: “Today marks a historical day for the fishing communities in Whitby and the North East coast.

Thousands of juvenile lobsters will be released in the coming years to help sustain our fishery. Our project, in which we envisaged replacing each lobster caught by a fisherman, is finally underway.”

The charity, based on Whitby’s Fish Quay, is aiming to have the full hatchery equipment installed later this summer, which will allow it to release many more juvenile lobsters over the coming years.

“I could not be more proud to see the efforts of so many people finally start to see some reward for all their work,” said Terry Pearson. “Customers are now, more than ever, questioning whether the foods they purchase are sustainable. This is certainly a huge step in the right direction.”

First lobsters released by Whitby Hatchery

The 1in lobsters are released once past their vulnerable larval stage.

The charity is hoping to raise £10,000 towards the hatchery equipment needed to kickstart the full juvenile rearing programme.

Whitby Lobster Hatchery general manager Joe Redfern said: “What a great achievement. We are so close to having the full hatchery installed, with the aim to release 100,000 juveniles each year. This first release of the juvenile lobsters is a massively symbolic step for the future.

“Onwards and upwards from here for our project, coastline, and fishing communities.”

To find out how to donate, or for more information about the project, visit the charity’s website here.

Donations can also be made through the project’s crowdfunder page here.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

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