Whitby Lobster Hatchery aims to release 100,000 juvenile lobsters into the sea every year

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The Whitby Lobster Hatchery has started releasing juvenile lobsters into the North Sea to replenish the fishery and bolster the sustainability of lobsters on the North East coastline.

The group has already released 9,000 baby lobsters into the sea and aims to release around 100,000 baby stock into the sea every year.

Hen lobsters have thousands of eggs that have been hatched at the hatchery and then reared by the staff for around eight weeks.

Joe Redfern, who runs the hatchery, told ITV News: "We let those lobsters hatch their eggs in the hatchery, we collect the larvae and we feed and look after those larvae until they are a small juvenile lobster.

"When they’re over the most vulnerable period of their life cycle and then we release them into the sea, where they’ve got a lot better chance of survival. We can see they’ve got claws now, they can burrow, they can scavenge themselves, they can defend themselves with their claws.

"Yes, they’re still small and vulnerable, but we’ve given them the best chance that we can."

Baby lobsters released into the sea Credit: ITV News

The mass die-off of lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans two years ago off the North East coastline, makes this scheme all the more important, according to Mr Redfern.

He added: "It’s something that’s happened that has highlighted how fragile our ecosystems are, how fragile our marine environment is and as a result, how fragile our own coastal communities are."

Hen lobster about to be released into the sea Credit: ITV News

James Cole has been fishing off the Whitby coast for decades. He said, that although lobster stocks have remained quite buoyant over the years, the die-off was a warning sign that sustainability of the fishery was key going forward.

He told ITV News: "Whitby Lobster Hatchery aims at putting as many lobsters back into the sea as what is caught, which closes the circle and makes us sustainable.

"It is underpinning our livelihood and it’s giving us a little bit of hope, but we have to find out if we’re releasing them into the right habitat or not and we won’t know this until five, six years down the line when their lobsters are big enough for us to be retaining our pots."

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