Cornish lobsters – new tagging study

Cornish shellfishermen are being asked to look out for tagged lobsters in their catches over the next couple of years, as part of a new study by Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee. Up to 2000 lobsters, mainly undersized, will be tagged in an attempt to gather more information on their movements and growth rates. This work, which is being funded by the Fishmongers’ Company, will help to build up a clearer picture of local lobster stocks.

The blue or orange plastic tags which are printed with a unique CSFC number, are inserted into the muscle tissues between the carapace and the tail, leaving two streamers visible outside the shell. Fishermen are being encouraged to record the position (Lat/Long), depth and date on which the lobster was caught, and the number and colour of the tag, before returning the lobster to the sea. If possible, they are also asked to measure the carapace size. Special recording forms and a limited number of plastic vernier callipers are available from the CSFC office for this purpose. All returned forms and any other records of the tagged lobsters will be entered into a draw with a prize of £50.

At this stage, lobsters are being tagged in Mounts Bay (blue tags) and from Port Isaac Bay to Bude (orange tags). In future years it is hoped to extend this programme to other areas but as lobsters are capable of moving many miles, it is still possible that some of the Mounts Bay lobsters may find their way into Falmouth Bay and up to the Helford.

Sam Davis, Senior Fishery Officer, who is carrying out the tagging, said that, “As a result of our recent shellfish stock survey and from talking to local fishermen, we identified a need for more detailed information on our lobster stocks. The skippers involved have been really positive about this work and we have already received two reports of tagged lobsters within a few days of the project starting”.

Further information on this work can be found on the CSFC website, in the  Research and Environmental section and recording forms can be obtained from the CSFC office or from fishery officers.

Extract from HVMCA newsletter No.35 Autumn 2007

© Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area