Sussex Fisheries and Lobster Potting Project
Valuing Inshore Fisheries and implementing changes to improve sustainability: an ecosystem approach...
There are some three hundred or so registered fishing vessels which are operating from ports in Sussex. Most of these boats are small inshore craft under-10m in length. This fishing fleet use a variety of fishing methods to catch fish in the shallow coastal waters off our shores.
A diverse variety of fish and shellfish are caught and these include sole, plaice, cod, lobsters, plaice and crab. The wide variety of fish available in this coastal fishery is a function of the diverse marine ecosystem. The geological diversity of the seabed, which includes exposed hard rock reef, gravel beds and muddy ria’s coupled with the dynamic oceanographic conditions; the large tidal range and convergent currents, gives rise to a diverse range of animals and plants.
Local fisheries regulations and the developing network of marine protected areas underpin this fishery. And in Sussex the lobster fishery alone is worth in excess of £1,000,000 per year and the fishery provides food, employment and leisure and continues to shape cultural landscape of Sussex by the Sea.
Lobster Escape Hatch Development:
To increase the sustainability of the Lobster potting industry, the Sussex Sea Fisheries District Committee initiated a project with Selsey Fishermans Association, that implemented the use of 6000 lobster pots with fabricated hatches designed to allow juvenile lobsters to escape.
Ecosystem Service Benefits:
Through increasing the survivorship of juvenile lobsters, a more sustainable harvest has been created, the efficiency of each catch has been improved and as such the commercial value of each catch has increased.
European lobsters provide an important food resource for large variety of fish and crustaceans including; cod, wrasse, eels, flatfish, brown crabs, shore crabs and larger lobsters . As such maintaining stable populations is important for biodiversity and marine ecosystem functioning.
Increasing juvenile survivorship will help maintain stable lobster populations and conserve genetic variability and population health.