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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Class 2 HGV Driver - with CPC

£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence