National Lobster Hatchery
WHO we are: The National Lobster Hatchery (NLH) 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 lobster populations. Ultimately this work helps to safeguard our inshore fishing industry and the many livelihoods it supports.
WHAT we do: The NLH has three main charitable outputs:
CONSERVATION: We operate an innovative stock enhancement programme for the European lobster which involves raising baby lobsters through their most vulnerable stages, then releasing them back into the wild when their natural survival rates are improved. Studies show survival rates to be very high, within the region of 50—80% surviving to adulthood and anecdotally, fishermen are noticing a higher number of sub adult lobsters in release areas. The charity is currently assessing how it can introduce a formal monitoring programme of its own. This will contribute to mankind’s knowledge of how to make fisheries more productive or restock should a species experience stock collapse.
RESEARCH: We conduct pioneering research that will assess the impact of our stocking programme and further develop stocking and culture techniques. Our research involves partnerships with leading academics and institutions and has been published in international peer reviewed journals and presented on the global stage. We are currently involved in a consortium that is aiming to develop a European wide road map for lobster stocking and aquaculture work, as well as leading a programme that is developing sea based container culture systems for offshore lobster culture.
EDUCATION: Our education programme aims to raise awareness of fisheries sustainability issues and their potential solutions. We are involved in formal and informal education, and we have an education centre that attracts around 43,000 people a year. Our latest figures estimate that 98% of our visitors have a better understanding of the importance of a sustainable fishery following their visit and 93% said they are more likely to purchase seafood from a sustainable source. The NLH’s conservation programme involves the fishing industry, scientists, the local community and the general public. It primarily focuses on an innovative stock enhancement programme which involves raising juvenile lobsters through their vulnerable stages and then releasing them into the wild once they have reached a less vulnerable stage in their lifecycle. A female lobster on average will 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.