Lobster wars: Fisherman says too many people cashing in

David Chambers, Norfolk

Fisherman David Chambers - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk fisherman with more than 40 years of experience has raised fears that the region's shores are being overfished - of lobsters.

Fisherman David Chambers. Picture: Archant

Fisherman David Chambers. - Credit: Archant

David Chambers, 74, who runs the Norfolk Sea Larder in Briston, near Melton Constable, said bad weather had recently affected lobster supplies.

But Mr Chambers also blamed too many people coming into the industry and crowding the waters with their pots on the decline in lobster supplies- and the hike in prices.

David Chambers, Norfolk

Fisherman David Chambers - Credit: Archant

It comes as the seabed from Weybourne to Happisburgh, off the Norfolk coast, was designated a Marine Conservation Zone in 2016.

Since then, Natural England has been investigating the effect of potting for crabs and lobster on it and found it's causing a 'significant' cumulative effect.

Conservationists liken the reef to a rainforest, a precious habitat that must be protected. But fishermen are fearful for the future of their industry.

Meanwhile, supplies of seafood, particularly lobster is being affected, says Mr Chambers.

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While a lobster should cost around £10, some are going for as much as £20-£26, he said. Hotels and restaurants aren't affected as fishermen supply them first - so it is the general public who are losing out.

Mr Chambers, chairman of the regional board of the NFFO, the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said too many fishermen were landing them - often taking the larger ones, affecting breeding.

"There is some degree of shortage in lobsters because of the weather but there is too much pressure on the stock.

"It's not quite yet at a point where it's going to hurt us but there is so much fishermen's gear and so many boats, far too many.

"A lot of them in Cromer have no idea and I've been calling for an upper size limit of lobsters. It's like if you see two rabbits in a field, you need to leave mum and dad alone to breed.

"Lobsters are going for silly money in Cromer and it's hurting the industry.

"What's happening is fishermen are looking after their main customers such as hotels and restaurants meaning the public can't get their hands on them.

"There are an awful lot of pots and I know some people with big boats who are giving up because there's too much gear out there, the younger fishermen have no respect, it's just crazy.

Norfolk lobster

Lobster could become in short supply warns Norfolk fisherman David Chambers. - Credit: Supplied