A North Devon lobster fisherman has hit a remarkable 10,000 milestone for releasing lobsters into the wild. For the past six years, John Balls, who runs his boat Aurora from Clovelly, has worked with the National Lobster Hatchery to release baby lobsters and ensure a sustainable fishery. As today (Friday) marks the start of national Seafood Week, the Gazette joined John on board his boat to find out more... He catches lobster, crab and some shellfish from April through to December but the first week of September features the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast festival, when around 1,500 miniature lobsters are released. The marine conservation charity at Padstow rears them from eggs before they are transported to their new home and carefully piped down to the seabed from aboard Johns boat. I have always been a commercial fisherman and unfortunately we always seem to get the bad press, said John, who is also chairman of the North Devon Fishermens Association. We are not always there to take everything out, we do our fair share of replenishing the stocks and when Dominic Boothroyd from the hatchery approached me about releasing lobsters, it seemed the ideal thing to do. At the festival, visitors get a chance to find out more about lobsters and crabs, sample delicious cooking, enjoy music and demonstrations as well as sponsor a baby lobster before it sets out on its life journey. John has some 300 pots set in North Devon waters at any one time, hauling 150 of those each day. He has fished for shellfish since leaving school in 1975 and has run his own boat for the past 30 years. I think the North Devon fishery is quite healthy, he said. The problem we will have is not the stocks but the lack of fishermen. Ben Bengey is the youngest of us at the NDFA but the average age of a UK fisherman is 57, so something needs to change to entice youngsters into the job.