Lobster V-Notch Project
Orcadian fishermen have been V-notching lobsters for decades to make sure berried female lobsters are not landed
The lobster V-notch scheme is one of Orkney's longest-running fisheries project. Fishermen bring up their catches and if they see a berried (egg-bearing) female lobster they will cut a triangle out of its tail then release it back into the sea. This makes sure that fewer sexually-mature female lobsters are caught which helps protect the lobster population.
It takes 4 years for a lobster to 'grow out' its V-notch. V-notching a lobster makes sure it is protected for at least 4-years. It is illegal to land or sell a V-notched lobster.
In 2012 a team of researchers (funded by the Scottish Fishermen's Trust and Marine Scotland through the FISA scheme) studied the V-notch project. They went out on Orcadian fishing boats to collect information on the weight and length of the female lobsters as well as the areas they were caught in. They compared this data to data that had been gathered in 2001 to see if there had been any changes in how lobsters matured with age and what months they reproduced. Over 3000 lobsters were V-notched. You can read the full report here.
The study found that the bigger a female lobster is the more eggs she produces. A 2kg female lobster with 150mm carapace length can produce up to 20,000 eggs- more than three times the amount that a smaller lobster with a carapace length of 90mm can produce.
Most females bear their eggs when the water temperature is warmer- particularly the months of April, May and June. Egg-bearing females move from colder, deeper waters into shallower and warmer areas such as Kirkwall bay.