Lobster centre plan hatched

Richard Batson A lobster hatchery, which would double as an educational and visitor attraction as well as a booster for fishing stocks, is being investigated by officials in North Norfolk.

Richard Batson

A lobster hatchery, which would double as an educational and visitor attraction as well as a booster for fishing stocks, is being investigated by officials in North Norfolk.

But the idea was only at a very early stage, and might never happen, stressed Brian Farrow, vice-chairman of the Sheringham-Plus regeneration group, which initiated the idea.

If it did happen the venture could mirror the national lobster hatchery at Padstow in Cornwall.

It nurtures pregnant lobsters, caught by fishermen and normally returned to the sea under fishing rules. It raises the baby lobsters to a size where they are safe from predators then releases them back into the wild to help secure future stocks.

But because such a venture was unsustainable on its own, it was combined with a research, education and visitor centre.

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At Padstow people, through a couple of jaunty cartoon characters called Larry and Linda, can adopt and name lobsters, and make donations - from a simple £1.50 adoption, which shows you where and when your little lobster is returned to the sea to a £1,000 sponsorship of a technician for a month.

Mr Farrow said the north Norfolk idea came from a local lifeboatman, and was being investigated through the local community partnership, which was liaising with the regeneration group, fishing fraternity, experts, boat owners, retailers and funders.

One of the local working party, who works for the Cromer Crab Company had also recently visited a similar venture in Scotland's Orkney isles.

Mr Farrow said the local fishing industry was a very important micro economy which needed to be supported.

There was no current crisis in lobster stocks. But because of the changing nature of local crab fishing - with a drop in edible crab catches in recent years and the invasion of velvet crabs - some fishermen relied on the lobster to “keep them going.”

So although the area was better know for its crabs it was important to look at future of the lobster fishery too.

But he added: “It may not be viable. It may not be in Sheringham, but we felt it was worth investigating

To find out more about the Padstow hatchery see the dailylinks section on www.EDP24.co.uk

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