Fishing Lines: How to make lobsters out of concrete

Told you so. Nineteen years ago, the very first story I wrote for this newspaper has come to pass. The column suggested that sea angling around much of our coastline might find a saviour in the oil industry. Yup. Those same mercenary toerags whose profits have risen 75 per cent in the past quarter, but who still claim their business is cyclical.

When the Indy was just a twinkle in someone's eye, the brains behind it decided the "It'll be all right on the night" approach was a teeny bit risky. They carried out dummy runs for weeks, printing a few copies and trying them out on a tiny, select audience. I wrote two columns that were only seen by the sports editor, the skeleton staff and a couple of hundred readers. (The last lot clearly had superb taste, for they demanded that the fishing column appeared weekly rather than fortnightly.)

I've no idea what the second column was about. Those were the days of floppy disks, dot-matrix printers and computers the size of a house. I'm sure it was superbly written, witty and incisive. Then again, it may have been a load of tosh. Can't remember.

But I do recall the first one. This chap in Aberdeen, Eric something, was pushing the idea that discarded oil rigs could be the salvation of struggling fishing communities. Once rigs have stopped pumping out oil, you can't leave them. Too perilous to shipping. You can't bring them onshore for decommissioning. Too expensive, and all that steel would depress the domestic market.

Eric's answer was to sink them a few miles off the ailing ports and turn them into fish-attracting reefs. Unlike cars, which rot to nothing in a few years, high-grade steel lasts a century or more.

Within a short time, small sea creatures would populate the reef. Then bigger things that eat the small ones (on land, they'd be called lawyers) would turn up. Within a few years, you'd have a thriving underwater town. It would provide commercial and rod-and-line fishing, with the local town policing its reef and stopping the dastardly Spaniards or Russians from nobbling the fish. The scheme had worked in Florida, so why not in the UK?

Journalists, alas, have a low attention span. I forgot all about it until this week, when I read that an artificial reef in Loch Linnhe, near Oban, had been so successful that others were planned. Made with 10,000 tonnes of honeycombed concrete blocks, the reef has seen sea life increase 16 times in the area since 2002, with cod, lobster and other shellfish moving in.

The Scottish Association for Marine Science, who are behind the project, are planning a similar reef off Aberdeen. Professor William Ritchie, the director of the Aberdeen Institute for Coastal Science and Management, said: "In years to come, we will see artificial reefs emerging around the coast of Britain."

The reef's biggest attraction, it seems, is for lobster "ranching", where juveniles are planted on the reefs and then grow to eating size. So, apart from the fact that it's lob- sters rather than fish, and concrete rather than steel, and in Oban rather than on the east coast, I got it dead right. Nineteen years later.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Beverley James: Accounts Payable

£22,000 - £23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking for the opportunity to work...

Beverley James: Accounts Assistant

£30,000: Beverley James: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a person looki...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower