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New lobster hatchery could help revitalize Irish fishery


February 21, 2014
By Quentin Dodd

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The community development society of Kilkeel, County Down, in Northern Ireland has received £260,782  ($428,877 USD). This grant from the UK-wide Coastal Communities Fund is intended to help revitalize the fisheries around Kilkeel, in part through development of a new lobster hatchery outside the small town. Initial projections are that the hatchery will produce some 100,000 juvenile lobsters over two years.

         The hatchery and accompanying education program have been developed, says Pamela Houston, executive director of the Kilkeel Development Association, to aid the region’s fishing industry by enhancing the lobster population, but will also act as an educational, training and research resource that will work in close collaboration with Queen’s University in nearby Belfast.

         In a partnering program with the university’s Dr Paulo Prodohl, a professor in biology, the program will undertake research that will enhance local lobster numbers and production. Although small, the project could well contribute to safeguarding more than 140 jobs in the inshore fisheries sector around Kilkeel, according to Houston.

         The building to be used is “a business unit finished to fish-processing standards” complete with the necessary plumbing for hatchery work. The plan is to fit it with a number of AquaHive units which will allow the tiny but cannibalistic juvenile lobsters to be separated from each other.

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         Houston said that the community development association is already looking beyond lobsters and is  discussing adding oysters, mussels and scallops.

         The Coastal Communities Fund in the UK was established as a two-year project at the end of 2011. It is aimed specifically at funding the regeneration of UK seaside towns and villages. The program is funded  with income from the Crown Estate’s marine assets. Funding is available in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.           

Quentin Dodd


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