V-sign for female lobsters set free


Female lobsters could be forgiven for thinking they are benefiting from positive discrimination as they attempt to evade entrapment in a fisherman's pot.

From now on most of those residing in Irish waters will carry a distinctive mark which will allow them stay alive rather than be subjected to a visit to a local restaurant. It is called a V-notch and is part of a conservation programme announced yesterday.

The procedure involves placing a small but highly visible V-notch on the right side of the tail flap of female lobsters. When they are landed, they are marked and returned to sea within a day, gaining six years' freedom during which they will breed three times.

The V-notch programme was first used by lobster fishermen in the US. Success there has led to its adoption in Ireland by the Irish Lobster Association (ILA) in a programme supported by the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources; Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the EU and the co-operative body, ICOS.

The doyenne of Irish cuisine, Ms Darina Allen, gave her mark of approval to the scheme at Ballymaloe Cookery School, Shanagarry, Co Cork, where the details were announced.

The ILA is distributing V-notch posters to fishermen, restaurateurs and customers who, in the event of being convicted of harvesting, selling or being in possession of protected lobsters, could face a penalty of up to £20,000 (protected means those with the distinctive V-notch or those with a carapace length of less than 85 millimetres).

V-notching was started by some lobster co-ops in 1993, but is now widespread enough to ensure adequate safeguards in most waters.