Lobster stocks will recover for Bridlington fishermen

Fishermen on the beach at Fraisthorpe trying to save lobsters which had washed ashore
Fishermen on the beach at Fraisthorpe trying to save lobsters which had washed ashore

A leading figure from the Yorkshire Coast fishing community says he is confident the devastating scenes of thousands of lobsters washed up on beaches will not cause long-term problems for the industry.

Mike Cohen, CEO of the Holderness Fishing Industry Group, said last week’s scenes at Fraisthorpe and Barmston has been ‘hugely distressing to witness’.

Fishermen raced to the scene to save thousands of animals and worked alongside wildlife organisations, resulting in an estimated 25,000 lobsters surviving and being taken back out to sea.

Mr Cohen said the storms which caused the marine life to wash ashore were a natural part of the lifecycle of the sea, and the disaster was unlikely to cause any long-term impact for the fleet, although ‘there may be some short-term, localised effects felt by a small number of inshore fishermen’.

“Mass strandings like the one we have experienced in Bridlington bay this week are very hard to witness,” he said.

“For anyone who makes their living on the sea, or cares about the marine environment, it is heartbreaking.

“It perhaps helps a little to realise that these are natural events, however.

“Winter storms are part of the cycle of life in the sea. Many creatures perish in them every year and when we have strong easterly winds, they are washed up on the shore.

“Huge as this event has been, we have to remember that what we saw on the beach is only a small part of the fantastically rich and diverse life to be found beneath the waves on our coast.

“We have the largest lobster stock in Europe on our doorstep and it is healthy and well managed. The lobsters will recover – as will all the other species that we saw being washed up – just as they did after the last stranding in 2013 and after every similar event before that.”

He believes the quick-thinking of the Bridlington fishing community was essential in protecting sticks. Describing it as like a war zone, they gathered surviving lobsters in buckets and took them to tanks at Bridlington harbour.

“The prompt actions of local fishermen will have greatly helped to speed up that recovery,” added Mr Cohen.

“From Saturday onwards, fishermen have been rescuing juvenile and egg-carrying lobsters from the beach and taking them to the holding tanks of the Bridlington shellfish merchants to recover, before releasing them several miles out to sea.

“Well over 20,000 healthy animals have already been released and all of this hard work will ensure that the stock bounces back faster.”