How it all started
The idea for a lobster hatchery based at North Berwick harbour was the brainchild of three local lobster enthusiasts who invested their own money after plans fell through to develop a larger hatchery as part of a £1.9 million extension at The Scottish Seabird Centre in 2009.
Skipper Jane McMinn, with local fishermen David Grubb and Jack Dale set up a miniature version of the project based on a feasibility study and findings from an implementation group (made up of representations from East Lothian Council, the Community Council, North Berwick Harbour Trust Association, local fishermen, East Lothian Yacht Club and The Scottish
Seabird Centre) that believed sustainable inshore fisheries are vital for the future local and national economy.
In 2010 they opened a small container at the harbour to inform and educate the public about the process and began their journey towards implementing a long term investment to repopulate the Firth with a sustainable source of lobsters. The Russell Trust and Naturesave Trust supported the project, with Mainstream Renewable Developments helping with a rebuild after the 2012 storm seriously damaged the small hatchery container.
In 2014, a grant from The Coastal Communities Fund enabled the project to advance with the purchase of a second larger container fitted out with a system from Shellfish Hatchery Systems Ltd. and four seasonal part time members of staff, including a Marine Biologist, for two years. In 2016 additional funding from The Coastal Communities Fund for a new container to replace the worn out educational unit and a full time member of staff was granted, allowing for another year of production. A fundraiser in winter 2016, as part of a well received exhibition “Tomorrow’s Lobsters” at The Scottish Seabird Centre brought in much needed monies, along with a small grant from North Berwick Golf Club to allow production and part time staff for 2017.
Since 2018 the Hatchery has relied on public donations and small local grants to run each year. 2019 saw the Hatchery celebrate it’s 10th year since conception with over 14,000 juveniles and hundreds of V-nothced females returned to the sea. As the Hatchery goes into a new decade the future remains uncertain, but as the only operating Hatchery in Scotland it continues to be a centre for education, knowledge sharing and production of juveniles to support lobster stocks.