How It’s Caught
The Lobster Pot
These are known as parlour pots. Traditionally they had a wooden base with a hazel or bamboo cane frame. They are now mostly made using a coated steel frame. These frames are covered in netting secured with rope wrapped around the frame. Rubber is lashed around the bottom of the pot to protect both it and the sea bed.
It is usual now to put a plastic tray in the base of the pot to help prevent the limbs of the crabs and lobsters slipping through the bottom bars and being damaged. Another regular addition is an escape gap which is placed into the side of the pot to allow undersize animals to get out. Every fisherman has a different way of making a pot so it is more easily identifiable to them.
Bait is secured in the pots using either bands or specially made bait bags. Virtually all bait is offal left over after filleting fish for human consumption. This ensures good use of a waste product by feeding other species in the sea. The main baits used are cod, mackerel, salmon, skate and flounder.
How It Works
A small quantity of bait is secured in to each pot. The pots are attached together in fleets of 25, 30 or 40. Each fleet is then launched off the back (stern) of the boat to lie in lines along the seabed. They are marked at each end of the fleet with a labelled buoy to identify them. Readings (latitude and longitude) are also taken for the position of each fleet so the vessel can easily locate them next time they are fishing. These fleets are left at least overnight and sometimes up to a week if the weather is bad and boats cannot get to sea. They are then hauled back aboard and emptied. Any keepers are put in fish boxes or large drums known as bongos and covered with damp cloth to protect them. They also have fresh sea water running over them to keep everything fresh. Anything that is not wanted is put back into the sea alive and within minutes of leaving the water. The pots are then baited again and put back on the seabed.
Here on the Holderness Coast we believe our method of fishing is truly one of the most sustainable there is. The pots do not cause damage to the seabed and any undersize or unwanted catch is returned to the sea alive after getting a free meal in the pot. Unlike fish, undersized shellfish can be discarded without coming to any harm. Minimum Landing Size ensures continued breeding population but we are working closely with our local IFCA (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority) on introducing other measures to ensure continued sustainability.
Lobster pots also act as mini reefs when they are left on the seabed. Like any hard surface underwater they attract life. Different seaweeds and mussels are known to attach to the pots creating a new habitat. This has the added benefit of providing an extra food source spreading life across the seabed.