With a unique DNA, the Oosterschelde lobster has a softer taste than the average European one. Only found in the Oosterschelde estuary in Zeeland, it was first encountered by some seriously surprised fishermen in 1883.
Rock and a hard place
A lobster’s habitat is rocks and stones in the sea. These do not occur naturally in most large deltas, and only arrived in Zeeland in 1867. Then a dam was built with stones to link Zuid-Beveland with neighbouring Brabant. This blocked off the flow of freshwater into the Oosterschelde, whose waters then became briny enough for lobsters.
Since there’s next to no contact between the Oosterschelde lobsters and other varieties, the purity of their DNA is ensured. That said, they can be at risk: their population requires a sturdy breed, and a strong winter can kill a great many. The few survivors are then counted upon to replenish natural stocks. Zeeland fishermen apply a sustainable low-impact system.
The fisherman sets out baskets, snares and nets under water – the lobster just walks into them – and he checks the traps daily. Smaller species and females with eggs are thrown back. The short harvest period is from 1 April to 15 July. After that, they’re available as long as stocks last.