Crustaceans for the nation from the Firth of Forth

The Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery is hooked on giving back to the sea.

The idea for the Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery first hit hatchery director David Grubb in 2007.

The part-time lobster fisherman decided that, ‘it was time that I gave something back to the sea. Fishermen are very good at taking things out of the sea, but rarely consider how they can put something back into it.’

Having seen similar models working in Norway, England and Orkney, David and his fellow directors Jane McMinn and Jack Dale pooled their resources to open the hatchery in North Berwick in 2010.

From a purpose-built container at North Berwick harbour, the company rears juvenile lobsters to be released back into the Firth of Forth. The hatchery works in partnership with local fishermen who collect the hens in order for their eggs to be harvested and then the tiny juvenile lobsters are nurtured until they reach an age where they are more likely to survive in the wild, normally at around 12 weeks old.

‘Only around 1% of lobster eggs laid in the wild will survive to adulthood,’ explains David. ‘But once they have passed the most vulnerable stage of their development in the hatchery, they have around a 60% chance of survival.’

As well as making a huge difference to lobster numbers in the Forth, the hatchery welcomes visits from school groups and the public so that people can learn about the work they do and about the lifecycle of the lobsters.

In 2016, the hatchery won a Scottish Rural Award, a fitting reward for all of the hard work that the hatchery team have put in over the past six years and something that David is rightly very proud of.

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(This feature was originally published in 2016)