David Sales' Story

Author: David Sales
David Sales' Story

Inshore fisherman David Sales visited the New England states of the USA and the Maritime provinces of Canada in 1968 for eight weeks to study the lobster fishing industry.

The Fellowship

David visited the Lobster Hatchery at Martha’s Vineyard and attended a two day seminar at Booth Bay, Maine, with their lobster scientists. He went to sea with various lobster fishermen in the New England states. At Bailey Island, Maine, he discovered the vast size of their lobster fishery compared to the UK, and was introduced to new ways of measuring lobsters to ensure regulations were met.

The Results

To prevent overfishing, the UK defined the minimum legal catch size for lobsters to be 238mm from head to tail. This caused difficulties as it was possible to stretch the lobster flat, making its full length extremely variable. In Massachusetts however, the measurement was taken from the eye socket to the back of the carapace (head), with the legal size set at 80mm.  

David realised that the carapace measure would be much more beneficial for enforcement purposes. It took him over two years to convince the Ministry to adopt this idea nationally. The carapace measure was originally introduced at 80 millimetres and subsequently increased to 87mm and even 90mm in some parts of the UK when it was discovered that female lobsters were able to breed once.  Since then it has had a dramatic effect on the lobster population around the coast and elsewhere in Europe.

Following his Fellowship, David imparted his knowledge to a large variety of audiences including Fishermen’s Associations, Women’s Institutes, and schoolchildren and from the Channel Islands to Scotland. In 1972, he addressed delegates of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain conference at Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge.

David remained a member of Southern Sea Fisheries District until it was disbanded in 2011. He has been a member of several committees and is the chair of the local Fishermen’s Association.

David’s Fellowship enabled him to form several personal and political contacts. He has since been involved in supporting the inshore fishing industry in the UK. He was able to exert influence with the Devon Wildlife Trust in the successful creation of the Lyme bay Marine Reserve in 2008.