Eastern Scheldt lobster
Oosterschelde National Park is a unique ecosystem which is home to a unique species of lobster: the Eastern Scheldt lobster (Oosterscheldekreeft).
Origins of the lobster population
When the dam was built between Zuid-Beveland and the mainland province of Brabant 1867, the flow of freshwater from the Scheldt River into the Oosterschelde estuary was cut off. This meant that the salt concentrations in the water became high enough to support lobsters. Consequently, with the introduction of new dikes and dams, rocky habitats were created that were, coincidentally, perfect for lobsters to live in and the area gradually became home to a new species. It wasn’t until 1883 that the province’s fisherman first caught one of the lobsters. Needless to say, they were surprised with what they´d found!
What makes the Eastern Scheldt lobster unique?
The lobster population here is fairly isolated and there is little water coming in from the North Sea (and therefore few different lobster species). The Eastern Scheldt lobster is also poorly adapted to harsh winters and much of the population ends up dying, leaving only a few lobsters to repopulate the stocks. This keeps the gene pool small and makes the Eastern Scheldt lobster the only species of its kind in the world. As a result, Eastern Scheldt lobsters have a milder flavour than other European species.
Lobsters are caught by setting a net or wire trap underwater so that the lobster can walk straight into it. Lobster fishermen monitor their catches daily, throwing back smaller lobsters and any females that are carrying eggs. Their fishing methods are quite labour intensive but they ensure that the lobster population is well maintained. The fishing season is also restricted to a short season starting on 1st April and spanning to mid-July.
Fresh from the sea
While sustainability is great, it’s Zeeland’s short supply lines that really guarantee the best tasting lobster. The catch goes straight from the estuary to the local restaurants: fresh and honest. What more could you ask for?
Mussels, oysters, cockles and winkles
While Zeeland is teeming with varieties of shellfish, it’s probably most famous for its mussels, often referred to as ‘black gold’. Mussel-season spans from September to April; all the months with an ‘R’ in them.