Sustainable Sunday – Berried Hen Ban

It’s Sustainable Sunday! 

Today were looking at the ‘berried hen ban’ – another way in which we can help conserve our lobsters and crawfish populations. In England it is illegal to land (to catch and bring into land) a female lobster or crawfish with eggs on. This law exists to give the ‘berried’ individual the chance for her to hatch her young and enhance populations in our local waters. Ultimately this will help ensure the species will have maximum opportunity to breed and help produce further generations of lobsters.

Photo by Jonny Fenn


On average, female lobsters will carry around 20,000 eggs – that’s a lot of babies! However, once these eggs hatch, they are thrown out in to the mercy of the sea. A new born lobster can be less than 1cm in size, and is classed as plankton (which means it can’t swim or walk) for around 2-4 weeks; it simply drifts around in the water. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of hungry fish and whales after it so it’s chance of survival is very slim. It is estimated that just 0.005% of eggs will survive and reach maturity in the wild – How crazy is that!

Here in the hatchery, we can help get around 15% of eggs past their larval stage to become little lobsters, so we really are significantly improving the baby lobster’s chance of survival especially during their most vulnerable life stages.


The berried hen ban does vary depending on where you are in the world – it’s best to check with your local government website. If you order lobster at a restaurant, you may end up with a berried hen – it’s best to check who the supplier was to ensure it hasn’t been illegally landed.

To learn more about the laws on berried hens, check out these links.

Landing Berried hens in England

Landing Berried hens in Scotland

Summary of Berried Hen laws