Why have a Lobster Hatchery?
Wells Fishermen’s Association, in partnership with Wells Harbour Commissioners, are passionate about protecting the fishery for the local community, for future generations of fisherman, and maintaining the long standing heritage of Wells remaining a fishing port. By rearing lobsters to benthic stage, we give them the best possible chance of survival in large numbers, which will support the fishery remaining sustainable.
The hatchery will also enable us to open new and exciting ways to promote conservation, research and education. It will be open to the public, via a booking system, at various times in the season. Check the Port of Wells Facebook page for the latest information.
The term ‘Benthic Lobster’ is used to describe a juvenile that is living on the sea floor feeding on marine organisms that also dwell there. Some studies made believe that only 1 in 20,000 larvae will make it to the Benthic stage due to their vulnerability in the early stages of their life.
In 2019 Wells fisherman landed 18 tonnes of lobster. In the UK the average weight of a fully mature lobster is between 500g to 1kg, so the fisherman landed in the region of 20,000 lobsters!
How does it work?
Special dispensation is granted, by HM Government's Marine Management Organisation, allowing our fisherman to land pregnant ("berried") lobsters for the Port of Wells Lobster Hatchery to use.
Berried Lobsters ("broodstock") are put in our special maternity tank until they hatch their eggs, which they do at night. The larvae are drawn to the light, caught in nets and transferred to the larval rearing tank.
Larval Rearing Tank
The larval rearing tank has water constantly moving to stop the larvae eating each other. They will be fed about 6 times a day with plankton.
They will stay in the tank until they reach post-larval stage and they look like a very small lobster.
Preparing for Release
Most of the small lobsters are then ready to be released back into the fishery. We keep a few to grow them a little larger, which increases their chance of survival when we do release them.
To release the lobsters, we transport them in seawater containers which are carried to the seabed by a scuba diver who will then let them swim to shelter/hiding places.
Ongoing research is looking at methods to track the success of lobsters reared this way, but it is difficult as the lobsters shed their shells as they grow so it becomes hard to identify them.
If you are interested in arranging a group booking* to visit the hatchery, or you would like to volunteer with us, please message us using the form below.
* Visits to the hatchery will be free of charge but a donation made on the day, to help towards hatchery running costs, would be well received .