Series of attacks threatens Dorset's lobster industry

A A A

To the surfers who flock there, it is known simply as 'K-Bay' - a Dorset coastal idyll of pebbled beaches and rocky outcrops set at the edge of the Purbecks. But Kimmeridge Bay's serenity has been shattered by slashed fishing nets and dark threats posted on the internet.

To the surfers who flock there, it is known simply as 'K-Bay' - a Dorset coastal idyll of pebbled beaches and rocky outcrops set at the edge of the Purbecks. But Kimmeridge Bay's serenity has been shattered by slashed fishing nets and dark threats posted on the internet.

Both are the work the Lobster Liberation Front (LLF), which has been delivering a new brand of animal rights activism for the past nine months and warns that its latest attack may not be the last.

In an internet message claiming responsibility for cutting a Kimmeridge fisherman's nets, the group has warned: "Those who find the cruel and merciless boiling alive of innocent life as not only acceptable, but even comical, should start looking over their shoulders." It added: "Needless to say, the scurvy dog who lurks about Kimmeridge Bay, trapping crustacean life so that they can be boiled alive and eaten, must have felt awfully seasick when he found his equipment in the morning."

Nick Ford, a 40-year-old former soldier whose nets were on the receiving end of the attack, said: "They are obviously picking on small fishermen. It's my livelihood. I'm only a one-man band trying to muddle my way through life bringing up my two children."

The LLF is evidently targeting fishermen who need lobster revenues most. The target of its first attack, last summer, was Jonathan Lander, who is continuing his family's five-generation tradition of lobster fishing to help bring up his two young sons.

"I've got nothing else I can do apart from go on the dole," he said. "We've all got bills and loans - what do you do? I'm a single parent and probably the easiest target in the world as I'm not at the boat that often because I'm always looking after the kids."

The activists struck Chapman's Pool, the sheltered bay where Mr Lander moors his boat. In two attacks over a period of days they smashed the engine, ripped the front off the boathouse, broke lobster pots and threw his catch back into the sea, causing about £10,000 damage. Then they went to his home in the village of Worth Matravers and splashed red paint over the walls.

Many of the more moderate animal rights organisations agree with the LLF's sentiments, including the US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). Its "lobster liberation" website, offers helpful "tips" on liberating endangered lobsters from restaurants and supermarkets. Jaren G. Horsley, a zoologist, is quoted concluding that the lobster has a "rather sophisticated nervous system"which allows it to sense actions that will cause it harm.

This view is contradicted by scientists from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, who recently concluded that lobsters do not feel pain when placed in boiling water a theory supported by studies at Aberdeen University.

Chief Inspector Nicholas Maton of Dorset Police said: "At the end of the day, the fishermen in Dorset are part of a very traditional industry. They are not multi-nationals.

"They need to survive, there is not an awful lot of money in it and they are particularly vulnerable to this kind of attack."

A life on the ocean floor

* Lobsters are bottom-dwelling decapods which venture out mostly at night - mixing brisk crawling over the ocean floor with a clumsy backstroke. Most have a dark green exoskeleton which turns bright red when boiled, but there are also rare blue, yellow, red and white species.

* These cannibalistic scavengers "smell" their food using four small antennae on the front of their heads and sensing hairs on their body. Chewing is done in the stomach, where their teeth can be found.

* A lobster's nervous system is far simpler than most animals. Scientists say it probably doesn't feel pain when boiled alive or jettisoning limbs to escape predators. They have 100,000 neurons - compared with about 100billion in people and other vertebrates.

* An average adult lobster grows to about nine inches long and weighs 1.5kg. Some deepwater specimens reach 20kg.

* As the invertebrate grows, it sheds its protective exoskeleton and a new, larger one forms in its place. It often devours its own shell to replenish lost calcium and help the new shell harden. Larvae shed between 14 and 17 times before reaching full adulthood when they sink to the seabed.

* The "true" lobster shouldn't be confused with the spiny lobster (actually marine crayfish), which lacks claws and has a pair of horns above its eyes.

Oliver Duff

News
David Beckham
peopleFootballer joins No campaign
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
film
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

Arts and Entertainment
art
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA Manual Tester - Agile

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Bursar/Business Manager

£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Experienced bursar or business...

Secondary School Teachers in Ipswich

Competitive & Flexible: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are l...

Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Qualified and/or experienced te...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories