THE first lobsters for an artificial reef off Weymouth are set to be released in the summer.

About 1,750 tonnes of Portland stone was sunk near Ringstead Bay in May 2012 to form a sanctuary for lobsters.

Up to 1,000 of the crustaceans, donated by the National Lobster Hatchery based in Cornwall, will be released between June and August.

The project, run by community group Wreck to Reef, aims to boost lobster stocks to help the fishing industry.

The circular lobster reef, which will cost about £25,000 a year to maintain, is set to have 6,000 lobsters introduced annually from next year.

Wreck to Reef has approached Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) to fund the project for three years from 2014.

Rocks have been used for the artificial reef as lobsters like to live in stony crevices.

The group also has long-term plans to sink two warships near Ringstead Bay as an artificial diving reef, similar to the one off Whitsand Bay in Plymouth where HMS Scylla was sunk in 2004.

Project co-ordinator Neville Copperthwaite said: "We're currently in the process of approaching the MoD and the Treasury for a ship.

“It is estimated that sinking a single ship brings in £1.6m to the local economy." To support the Wreck to Reef project, sign the e-petition