We’re really looking forward to the start of the Ramus Lobster Festival, which will run from 17th June to 15th July. This year we are delighted to announce a partnership with The Yorkshire Lobster Company based in Scarborough who will be delivering a plentiful supply of deliciously sweet East Coast lobsters throughout the festival. We spent a fabulous day in Scarborough chatting to Bob Roberts, owner of The Yorkshire Lobster Company, about his boat, his lobsters and the lack of lobster rolls!
How and why did you start the Yorkshire Lobster company?
I come from a Scarborough fishing family but my father encouraged my brother and me not to follow him out to sea, so I did an apprenticeship in boatbuilding. The sea was obviously in my blood though, as I then spent the next 20 years in the navy! Ten years ago I bought my boat, naming it Capernaum after my grandfather’s boat, and started to fish for crab and lobster. Twelve months ago I set up The Yorkshire Lobster Company with the aim of selling the best quality lobsters directly from the boat. We’re really excited to be working with Ramus Seafoods as our fresh lobsters can be delivered from boat to plate in a matter of hours.
Tell us about catching the lobsters.
Normally we can catch 50kg per day (100 lobsters) from 5-6 miles out on the rock face; we also catch crabs. Crabs need fresh bait such as mackerel backs and lobsters need rotten bait such as salmon heads. At the peak season at the end of June, after shedding their shells, we could catch between 80-90kg.
During August & September the lobsters are the fullest, all the way up to Christmas, but they are available for harvesting all through the year. The majority of the lobsters that we catch weigh 450-500g, many with distinctive blue legs, although further along the coast at Filey, the ‘Filey Blue’ can have a much bluer hue all round.
Our boat Capernaum goes out each day but there are around 30 lobster boats in Scarborough that we can also call on for lobster. We catch up to a dozen per pot and have 800-900 pots out at any one time. The crew make and mend the pots during the quieter winter months and each one is individually crafted with its own unique quirks, costing around £70-80 to make.
Are the lobsters sustainable?
Lobsters reach sexual maturity before commercial maturity so they are able to breed before being caught. We endeavour not to catch ‘berried hens’ (lobsters with eggs). Scarborough is very much a shellfish port, with potting now a mainstay of the economy, whereas before it was just seen as a cottage industry. From the cliffs at Flamborough right up to the Tees estuary it is a nursery ground for lobsters with Bridlington being the largest shellfish port on the UK. There are very few fish between the Humber and the Tees, possibly due to pollution, so with fewer predators more lobsters can survive.
How do you store the lobsters?
We use the same excellent filtration system that the Canadians use in their lobster industry, with carbon & coral filters used to transform the ammonia from the lobsters into nitrites and then into soluble nitrates; a far better system than recirculated water.
How do you enjoy eating lobster?
I simply boil them for 10-11 minutes and then leave them in the water for a while. I’d love to see somewhere doing lobster rolls which they serve at Joe’s Stone Crabs in the US. Delicious creamy lobster instead a baguette!
Look out for some delicious recipes and more information about the Ramus Lobster festival coming soon…