An expansion programme recently completed at the Orkney Lobster Hatchery aims to see increased lobster catches around the UK. The hatchery, the largest in Europe, has trebled its capacity for production of juveniles for release to the wild.

“We can now produce up to 30,000 per year and with the next expansion, will double this capacity,” said manager Dennis Gowland.

Lobster catches have declined over the past few decades to just over 1,100 tonnes per year in 2001 and 2002, with a first sale value of around £11m. The UK now imports almost 1,500 tonnes from Canada and the US.

According to TNS Superpanel, retail expenditure on chilled lobster in the year to May 2003 amounted to £3.35m, a 5% increase year-on-year. During the same period, expenditure on frozen lobster increased 9% to £4.2m.