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15 November 2013, 18:18
A community group on the south coast of Dorset called Wreck to Reef have restocked an artificial reef they've built with 1,000 baby lobsters.
A group of fishermen, divers, scientists and the Sea Police, (Southern IFCA) worked together on the project.
Spokesman Neville Copperthwaite said,
“Right from the start we have refused to become ensnared in the polarised world of conservationists versus people that make a living from the sea.
"After all, we all want the same thing, clean productive and healthy seas. It is sometimes useful to point out that if the land was treated in the same way as the sea and we never replenished it with new seed, we would soon run out of crops.
"The sea is no different and yet nothing is ever put back into it; so why should we be surprised that stocks are declining? Lobster restocking is practical conservation; it redresses the balance.”
The baby lobsters have been donated free of charge by the National Lobster Hatchery based at Padstow, Cornwall and they were released onto the artificial reef in Weymouth Bay by divers on 15 November 2013.
The Sea Police have also granted £17,000 for 1,000 baby lobsters to be released onto the artificial reef each year for a further three years.
These will be ‘tagged’ by scientists from the National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton prior to release, and local fishermen have volunteered to carry scanners on their boats to monitor the lobsters to assess survival rates.
The baby lobsters are only two centimetres long when placed on the artificial reef and they will take 5 to 6 years to reach maturity. The idea is not to catch those baby lobsters, but rather to encourage them to leave the specially designed reef once they have grown to adulthood and wander off into the wider environment to breed.