Yorkshire looks to Canada to boost fortunes of 'Europe's lobster capital'

Yorkshire is looking to Canada for inspiration to improve the fortunes of Europe's little-known "lobster capital" and boost tourism in one of its leading resorts.

The giant lobster in Shediac

Landings of lobsters into Bridlington are the largest in the UK and Europe

The 310 tonnes caught last year represents 17.5 per cent of the European lobsters landed into England and 9.5 per cent of the global landings for the species..

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But with the vast majority of its catch exported to France and Spain and visitors to the town eating imported Canadian lobster, its significance goes by largely unremarked.

Rolly Rollisson,91, Bridlington oldest fisherman with his son Rolo, 58 Picture: James Hardisty

The Holderness Coast Fisheries Local Action Group (Flag) is exploring the potential to boost tourism, with researchers at Hull University Business School.

In January a group of fishing industry representatives and academics visited Shediac in New Brunswick. A small town with a massive processing industry, it is known as the "lobster capital of the world" and attracts 300,000 visitors a year.

Ray Williamson from Holderness Coast Flag, said in the UK both Padstow and Cromer are associated with seafood, but "that hasn't happened here in Bridlington yet".

Mr Williamson said: "There is so much economic potential. We are probably the only place in the world which has such a massive lobster industry which doesn't sell itself on the back of it and attract thousands of people."

A pair of freshly caught lobsters

It could take five years to establish a brand, with work needed on everything from signage to ensuring there are places where visitors can buy and eat the fresh product.

They are also looking at storing lobsters alive in tanks for potentially several months so they could be sold when the demand - and price - is highest.

East Riding councillor Jane Evison, portfolio holder for local economic growth and prosperity, said the council was "very interested" in supporting the plans.

She said: "For years we have said Bridlington and the (Holderness) coastline catches more shellfish, crab and lobster, than anywhere in Europe. It has been a statement.

"We have a seafood festival which is always really popular, but somehow it is missing a trick, not really focussing on what Bridlington is about.

“It's not just about day trippers, it has a really important brand to market and sell.

“We as a council will always find ways to support the tourism industry in Bridlington."

East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight said Bridlingon was an "unsung hero" of the shellfish industry, and the fact Bridlington lobster was so appreciated abroad was a compliment, particularly by the French who “are well known for their love of cuisine”.

He said: "I think it is getting people to associate the name of Bridlington with excellent seafood where there is a further job to be done."