How a pro-aquaculture white knight helped get a new UK lobster restoration project up and running

Giles Cadman.

With a plan to release around 100,000 juvenile lobsters annually, the new Whitby Lobster Hatchery, in North Yorkshire, U.K., is looking to use specially-tailored technologies to return a once thriving but now dilapidated fishery back to its former glory and boost local livelihoods in the process.

With degradation of the local marine environment significantly impacting the region’s European clawed lobster (Homarus gammarus) fishery, the project is the brainchild of the team at the Whitby Lobster Hatchery, who had the vision to create a new hatchery that could support restocking efforts. The new hatchery is based out of Whitby Fish Market.

Much of the credit for getting the project off the ground falls to Giles Cadman, an investor in, and operator of several restorative aquaculture businesses. The project is a personal endeavor and is not connected with his Cadman Capital Group, Cadman told SeafoodSource.

The hatchery’s owners first contacted Cadman through one of his businesses, Ocean On Land Technology, which manufactures bespoke hatchery systems specializing in lobsters. On hearing the project couldn’t move forward without funding, Cadman stepped in and agreed to support the hatchery over a period of five years. Cadman is also providing technical consultation to the Whitby team, and also thousands of juvenile lobsters to accelerate its restocking program.

The Whitby hatchery is using a custom Ocean on Land Technology hatchery system, built by a specialist team in rural Northamptonshire that traveled to Whitby to complete the bespoke assembly process.

“Each year, I do something to make a difference, and this year, it was a personal donation to get the Whitby project off the ground,” Cadman said. “The release of 500,000 lobsters over five years is payment enough for me, as it guarantees livelihoods for fishing families for generations to come.”

The Whitby project is far from Cadman’s only aquaculture interest. In Orkney – at the multispecies Orkney Shellfish Hatchery, located on the remote island of Lamb Holm – the Cadman Capital Group’s Aquaculture Division has been developing technologies to supply juvenile clawed lobsters to other local restoration projects, and a similar initiative for native oysters (Ostrea edulis).

Native oyster numbers have suffered heavy declines all over Europe, but a multinational effort to save the species has emerged. Orkney Shellfish Hatchery maintains that keeping these animals in the hatchery for longer and enabling them to grow bigger and become more robust will enhance their chances of survival in wild waters.

When we started the Orkney hatchery, we didn’t know how things would end up. We developed and improved survivorship, as well producing 80 million larvae in 2022. We created a turnkey commercial native oyster hatchery that can be replicated in a modular system that can be recreated across Europe,” Cadman said.

While his focus has been on the production of juvenile lobsters and oysters and also new technologies that can enhance these iconic fisheries, Cadman has additional plans to replenish other wild seafood stocks.

“Our focus on the 360-degree restoration of coastal ecosystems means we will tackle any species that sit in the first stage of the cycle. We will look to replenish any wild stocks that are part of the wildlife,” he said. “We are working on a number of initiatives, all of which will fit with our global strategy for restorative aquaculture.”

Cadman said he’s also open to working with other cooperative lobster-based hatchery charities that work with clawed lobsters.

“We need more lobster hatcheries, not less, so I would be delighted to see more projects get up and running,” he said

Another part of Cadman’s aquaculture portfolio is its Caribbean Sustainable Fisheries venture, a land-based grow-out system developed for Caribbean spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus), and it works by removing post-larvae lobsters from the water to raise on farms. According to Cadman, the process has virtually no impact because the lobster mortality rate is naturally very high.

The progress seen at CSF is outstanding,” Cadman said. “We have a three-acre land-based RAS system that was due to be built in 2020, but which got delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s now full steam ahead – lobsters are due to arrive at the new farm from late 2023. We have also been successful with lab-based on-land hatchery trials for spiny lobsters, and we are looking to progress this into aquaculture production in 2023-2024.”

The program has been adopted by traditional fishing families in the British Virgin Islands, Cadman said.

“The lobsters are hand-reared on our farm in Tortola. They are consistently monitored to ensure their welfare. The excellent farm conditions mean that not only do they taste better than wild, but that they are plumper and fill their shells,” he said.

The alternative asset investment firm has made two more strategic investments thus far in 2023.

It has followed the taking of a strategic equity stake in Urchinomics, an aquaculture venture that turns ecologically destructive sea urchins into high-valued seafood, with the acquisition of New Brunswick, Eastern Canada, land-based seafood farming and processing company Quoddy Savour Seafood.

In December 2022, Urchinomics secured the world’s first kelp restoration blue carbon credit, issued after a successful research project in Kunisaki and Nagato, Japan.

Meanwhile, with access to the key seafood markets of New York, Boston, Montreal and the wider North American East Coast, Quoddy Savour Seafood’s 33-acre site has the capacity to raise and hold lobsters and urchins, as well as other key local fish species. The company ran an urchin-ranching pilot study with Urchinomics in 2022. 

Photo courtesy of Cadman Capital Partners


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