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Welcome to the National Lobster Hatchery Newsletter

Lobster print Deckchairs
The latest edition of 120 gorgeous ‘lobster print’ deckchairs for children and adults in navy, red and turquoise.  Treat your garden this spring, 2 deckchairs only £75 or for the children 2 deckchairs for £55.
Lobster Camisole & briefs
Lobster hoody's, rugby shirts, t-shirts, caps, even underwear!  Designs by Demelza Homewood, created by the National Lobster Hatchery.

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The University of Exeter Cornwall Campus and the National Lobster Hatchery played host to a number of the world’s lobster experts at a recent marine crustacean knowledge exchange and networking event.

The event, which formed part of the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) Legacy Programme was organised with the National Lobster Hatchery and consisted of a day of seminars looking at stock enhancement in the UK and how culture processes could be developed.

The event, which was attended by delegates from all over the UK, welcomed speakers from Norway, Canada, Ireland, the University and the Lobster Hatchery. It provided partners and invited guests with an overview of previous assessment technologies and the potential for using new genetic tools.

Dominic added: “This event has enabled world experts to get together, share expertise and experience, as well as form collaborations and partnerships. One of the focuses was about how we might model the lobster population and therefore understand better, how to utilise stocks in a more sustainable manner. Today has helped us to establish where some of the knowledge gaps are and will help us to formulate a strategic approach to filling these gaps. This will inform the direction of the charity’s research in years to come, be of huge benefit to the fishing industry and might eventually influence the way stocks are managed elsewhere.”

Dr Dave Hodgson, Associate Professor of Ecology at the University of Exeter, said: “Events like this help to consolidate the University’s role as a provider of research expertise to Cornwall’s environmental sector. The lobster is an iconic species in Cornwall’s marine environment and it is in everyone’s interest to understand its ecology and exploit its populations sustainably.

This event brought together researchers, conservation biologists and fishermen to great effect. We identified knowledge gaps, discussed modern approaches to filling those gaps and resolved to work together in developing the monitoring and modelling tools required to create a very modern and sustainable fishery in Cornish waters.”

The event also saw the creation of the 'European Lobster Centre of Excellence' ELCE.  This virtual centre is composed of the leading academics and businesses involved in the culture of lobster in Europe and is a huge step forward in the charities work, allowing the sharing of information and ideas amongst the group.

Click here to read more about the Lobster Conference, Workshop & Research


Once again, Stein’s are supporting our charitable work.  We have been nominated as their ‘charity of the year’ which means all collection tin monies in their restaurants and fishmonger will be donated to us.

BABY LOBSTERS – the season is in full swing

All be it a slow start early this year, due to cold weather, our little lobsters are now in full swing and doing well under the ‘green fingered’ Ben and Ben hatchery team.  Ben Marshall, our new Senior Hatchery Technician joined us in January of this year, coming from Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay.  Dr Carly Daniels who previously held the position has successfully taken on a new role made possible by the Governments Coastal Communities Fund as Research & Development Officer.

In the last decade we have been quietly working on the ‘research’ part of our charitable objectives but are now starting to think of ourselves as a research organisation that operates stocking and educational activities.

Our first release of lobsters took place on Friday 7th June, filmed by the ITV Westcountry News team.  The 1,400 little lobsters were delivered by hand  with the help of 4 divers aboard Atlantic Diver, at Poltexas Reef off ParkHead near Newquay.  On the 10th June Harlyn Dive School took out another 700 little lobsters with Sports Diver Magazine.  We're looking forward to seeing the photos!


With funding from Big Lottery Coastal Communities Fund the visitor centre had a completely new exhibit installed in January.  The feedback from customers has been extremely positive.   The journey through the hatchery, from egg to adult lobster has been rewritten and updated and the panels have been designed to bring us up-to-date with modern design.

Dr Carly Daniels first task in her new post has been to build a new larval research facility.  The system will allow us to run trials on 3 separate water sumps (reservoirs) and provide the opportunity to intensify our feeding trials with less external factors clouding the results.

Very little is known about the European Lobster, there are no suppliers of lobster food as there would be for cattle or chicken.  Dr Daniels has been working on diets for over 5 years now and has even studied the gut fauna of a juvenile lobster!  Carly will continue to develop a pelleted diet formulated to the specific needs of developing baby lobsters.  Our focus for this year will be on the needs of the larval lobster in their first few precious weeks.

As demonstrated so successfully by our two enthusiastic sponsors Sankeys and Wing of St Mawes, the ‘Buy One, Set One Free’ is going from strength to strength.  We are looking to work with like-minded seafood restaurants and fishmongers who are dedicated to supporting our work.  Rob Wing of Wing of St Mawes is rallying his customers to join the scheme and Wing of St Mawes make a donation of 50p on every lobster sold through their on-line fish shop. 

Restaurants that have joined the scheme have said its been great for business.  Not only do their customers love the idea of helping to release baby lobsters but it has encouraged sales of their more expensive lobster dishes.

New Restaurants that have joined the scheme are:

  • The Beach Restaurant, Sennen
  • The Herring & Wild Café, Bedruthan Steps
  • The Porthminster Café, St Ives


This PhD aims to advance both genetic and ecological tools to improve crustacean culture.  Studies in recent years have highlighted success in rearing lobsters off the coast of SW England in sea-cages, as a transition step between hatchery environments and the wild.  Advances in the application of genetic tools for assessing variations in lobster populations, creates an exciting opportunity to consider whether there is a genetic impact created by the rearing environment. This PhD involves close collaboration between The National Lobster Hatchery (NLH), University of Exeter (UOE) and Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) to extend the scope of the project.

The Hatchery research team have been busy undertaking a study of lobster fecundity - the number of eggs produced by a pregnant female. Female fecundity has been shown to vary greatly across the range of the European lobster so, to try and estimate the breeding potential of local lobsters, the egg masses of over 50 wild-caught females were weighed and counted. Hatchery researchers Charlie Ellis (a PhD student working with the University of Exeter) and Hannah Knott (an undergraduate student from the University of Plymouth) certainly got through a lot of counting, with one large female carrying more than 35,000 eggs.  Their results show that Cornish lobster fecundity is generally high, and appears to be more similar to populations in Northern France than those in Wales or Scotland. Their study confirmed that a significant linear relationship exists between lobster size and egg production, with larger, older females producing many times the quantity of eggs than smaller, younger females. This study will influence how we source our broodstock in future, and may even go on to influence the local management of the lobster fishery.
THE BIG SWIM CORNWALL – places for 750 swimmers this year, are you up for the challenge?

17th – 18th August 2013, Port Quin – Port Isaac – Port Gaverne

The first Big Swim took place in 2010 with just 50 swimmers.  The Swim was initiated by Sarah Coates, who wanted to inspire locals and visitors to utilise this amazing natural resource on their doorstep and take to the open water to push boundaries, create a fun personal challenge whilst raising money for local charities that support our fragile coastal communities.  The National Lobster Hatchery has remained a beneficiary of this exciting event for the last 3 years.

The boundaries are being pushed once again with a new Super Serious Swim, a 3.2 mile sea swim from Port Quin to Port Isaac.  For some of our swimmers, the one mile sea swim was just not challenging enough!  The Serious and Not So Serious Swim (a one mile sea swim) will continue this year.  Following the successful addition of The Triathlon and Little Swim last year, we have allowed even more spaces for swimmers and are aiming to attract 150 Little Swimmers for the 200 yard harbour swim.

Entertainment, live music and an official campsite are all in hand.  Come down and make a weekend of it.  Join us and sign up for the swim today!
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