UK lobster suppliers support size ruling
Lobster suppliers and processors in Wales agree with the government’s new rules on lobster sizing.
Welsh Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Rebecca Evens recently ruled that a larger minimum size for lobsters in North Wales should be required to align with minimum-size requirements in South Wales. The minimium lobster carapace, or shell, size in the north is 87 millimeters (mm) versus 90 mm in the South.
“This will result in there being one minimum size across Wales,” Evans said. “It will also allow lobsters more time to breed, which will ultimately result in improved and more sustainable stocks, and a better long-term economic outcome for Wales’ fishing industry.”
Tristan Wood, owner of supplier The Lobster Pot in Anglesey, U.K., agrees that the standard minimum size improves the fishery and makes it more sustainable in the long term. “I have a lot of demand for larger-sized lobsters. If I have more large-sized lobsters, it makes me a preferred supplier over many others,” Wood said.
Foreign buyers also want the larger-sized lobsters, according to Wood. “The Chinese will take more. The French are the biggest buyers at the moment and, in the long run, they will also take more and more,” Wood said.
However, he acknowledged that supply may be tighter in the short-term, while lobsters grow to bigger sizes. “It will be harder for next season, but after that it won’t matter,” Wood said.
The Welsh government reviewed lobster sizes as part of its Marine and Fisheries Strategic Action Plan, and the new requirement is based on industry feedback, according to Evans. “The crustacean fisheries are crucial to the Welsh fishing industry, with GBP 3.8 million (USD 6.16 million) worth of crustaceans landed in Wales in 2012. Given the importance of this fishery to the Welsh economy, it was one of the first to be considered in our wider review.”
Evans said the government would phase in the increase in minimum size for lobsters in order to “minimize the impact on the industry in North Wales where a significantly lower minimum size currently applies.” However, the Minister has not announced what the phased-in increase will look like.
As part of the lobster announcement, Evans also said she would delay considering a ban on the landing of female lobsters carrying eggs, so that “more evidence and research on sustainability issues and the economic impact of such a measure could be undertaken.”