Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Nephrops norvegicus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Skagerrak and Kattegat
Stock detail — IIIa (FU 3 and 4)
Picture of Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Recent survey and effort data suggest the stock is exploited sustainably. Nephrops are caught predominantly by bottom trawling. Trawl fisheries for scampi (nephrops) are associated with large quantities of bycatch, including protected species such as cod, and juvenile fish. Increase the sustainability of the scampi you eat by choosing pot or creel caught rather than trawled scampi. If choosing trawled fish ask for Nephrops trawled in nets using separator grids and larger meshes to increase their selectivity and reduce bycatch and discards.

To ensure exploitation is in line with the size of the local population ,and so better protect the stock, scientists advise that management should be implemented at the functional unit (FU) level. Currently there is no localized management of stocks which has resulted in the overfishing and depletion of some Nephrops populations like the Farn Deeps.


Norway Lobster (also known as langoustine or scampi) live in burrows on the seabed. They are limited to a muddy habitat and require sediment with a silt and clay content to excavate burrows. Their distribution therefore is determined by the availability of suitable habitat. They occur over a wide area in the North East Atlantic, from Iceland to North Africa and into the Mediterranean, and constitute a valuable fishery for many countries. Males grow relatively quickly to around 6 cm, but seldom exceed 10 years old. Females grow more slowly and can reach 20 years old. Females mature at about 3 years. In the autumn they lay eggs which remain attached to the tail for 9 months (known as being "berried"). During this time the berried females rarely emerge from their burrows and therefore do not commonly appear in trawl catches, although they may be caught using baited creels. This habit of remaining in their burrows has probably afforded their populations some resilience to fishing pressure. Egg hatching occurs in the spring, and females emerge in spring/summer to moult and mate.

Stock information

Stock Area

Skagerrak and Kattegat

Stock information

Nephrops stock assessment and management is based on a system of management units (A-R), which broadly coincide with ICES areas, and functional units (FU)(1-33), which cover the distribution of the species, particularly in relation to suitable habitat types. In part due to the difficulty of assessing stocks, which may spend significant amounts of time in burrows, a fishery independent survey method using video surveys has been developed, which uses burrow density to estimate stock biomass. This technique is now widely, though not comprehensively, used within the management units, enabling recommended TACs and management advice to be provided by ICES. Fisheries landings data are also available to augment the video survey data.
Recent survey and effort data suggest abundance is stable and that the stock is being exploited sustainably. ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied catches in 2017 should be no more than 13 098 tonnes. With the high survival exemption under the EU landing obligation in 2017 and if discarding continues below the minimum conservation size (MCS), this implies landings of no more than 12 715 tonnes.


There is no management plan for Nehrops in this area. As part of the plan to recover cod in areas where it is depleted (North and Irish Seas, West of Scotland and Kattegat ) a Cod Recovery Zone (CRZ) has been established. In this zone effort restrictions have been introduced for the protection of cod i.e. a fishing boat will be restricted as to how much time it spends at sea fishing. The Nephrops fishery in this area is heavily influenced by these effort restrictions. Derogations or exemptions from compliance with effort restrictions in the form of more days fishing at sea are available to trawlers using species-selective devices suchs as grids to reduce cod by-catch. Vessels may also receive an additional allocation of days (buy backs) where they agree to fish exclusively using specified selective gear e.g. NetGrid. In the Irish Sea for example fishing vessels using Nephrop's trawls will receive extra days if using a SELTRA 300; SELTRA 270; Faithlie panel or a Flip-Flap trawl etc. Quota may also be allocated according to what gear type is in use. For example in Sweden 30% is allocated to creels, 50% to grid trawls and the remaining 20% to other trawls. To protect the Nephrops stock in this management area, ICES advises that management should be implemented at the functional unit level.
Due to a mis-match in the area between Minimum Conservation Size (Minimum Landing Size) (MCS) and mesh size, the MCS was lowered from 40 mm carapace length to 32 mm in 2016. Norway still apply a 40 mm CL.
Under the EU landings Obligation (Discard ban) there are two exemptions in place for vessels fishing for Nephrops: A High survival rate exemption allows animals below the MCS or undersized Nephrops to be returned to the sea or discarded. It also allows Unwanted animals to be discarded if taken in pots or in trawls provided a selectivity device is fitted; A De Minimus exemption also allows vessels to discard a limited amount of Nephrops below the MCS.

Capture Information

There are two types of fisheries for Nephrops in this area: trawl (89%) and creel (11%) fisheries. Some trawlers use species selective gears (trawls with 35 mm sorting grids and 70 mm square mesh codend or SELTRA i.e. trawls carrying 90 mm diamond mesh codends with large mesh panels). The mixed fishery for whitefish and Nephrops now has a minimum mesh size of 120 mm (diamond mesh). Discarding of undersize nephrops and other fish species is problematic in trawl fisheries. Cod, plaice and sole are significant bycatch species in these fisheries. Females are mainly caught in the summer months. When carrying eggs (known as being "berried"), which usually occurs between early autumn and spring of the next year, they stay in their burrows and cannot be caught by trawls. However, in fisheries where there is high fishing effort in summer, fishing mortality can be as high on females as on males. The minimum landing size for nephrops in EU waters is 20-25mm (40mm Skagerrak/Kattegat) total carapace length depending on area of capture. High amounts of discards (52% by weight in 2012 and 2013; 67% in number 2011-2013) in this area is attributed to the high minimum landing size (40 mm carapace length). In 2016 the MCS was reduced to 32 mm. Discard survival is assumed to be 25%. The high mud content and soft nature of sediments in which Nephrops live means that trawling severely marks the seabed. As of 2012, all EU, Faroese and Norwegian vessels which exceed 12m overall length must be fitted with a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), a form of satellite tracking using transmitters on board fishing vessels to monitor fishing activity. The system is a legal requirement under EC Regulation 2244/2003 and Scottish Statutory Instrument (SI) 392/2004.


ICES Advice 2016 Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/nep-3-4.pdf