A MAJOR rescue operation is taking place along the Yorkshire coast to save thousands of lobsters washed up on shore in the wake of last weekend’s storms.
Shellfishermen from Bridlington and nearby ports are working against time to collect the young lobsters, place them in water and then return them to the sea. The operation is set to continue into next week.
They are also worried about the long term impact on the fishery and the local economy. The Yorkshire coast, with Bridlington as its main base, is the UK’s most valuable shellfishing region, with much of what is produced sold to Europe.
Many fishermen also fear their lobster pots may have been destroyed by the weather.
But it is not just lobsters at risk. The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust says tens of thousands of marine animals have been washed up along the UK’s east coast.
They also include crabs, starfish and mussels, which have been found ankle deep in places along the Holderness coast in Yorkshire. Most of the creatures are now dead – except for lobsters.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas team has been working alongside fisherman rescuing the lobsters that are still alive – gathering them in buckets and taking them to tanks in Bridlington for care – putting them back in the sea as the weather improves.
Similar scenes have been reported down the North Sea coast including Norfolk and Kent.
Bex Lynam, North Sea marine advocacy officer of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: ‘There was a three degree drop in sea temperature last week which will have caused animals to hunker down and reduce their activity levels.
‘This makes them vulnerable to rough seas – they became dislodged by large waves and washed ashore when the rough weather kicked in.
‘Larger animals, such as dolphins, are more mobile and can save themselves by swimming away when this sort of thing happens.
‘Lobsters are one of the few species still alive – that’s why we’re saving them with local fishermen. This area is very important for shellfish and we work alongside fishermen to promote sustainable fisheries and protect reproductive stocks.
‘It’s worth saving them so that they can be put back into the sea and continue to breed.’
Holderness is already designated as a Marine Conservation Zone. The government is due to announce a consultation into more marine conservation zones this year.
Picture: BBC News