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 — North Sea (Botney Gut to Silver Pit)
Stock detail — IV b,c (Management Area H: FU 5)
Picture of Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Data for this area comes only from fishery catch data, which is insufficient to provide robust stock assessment. New discard data indicate that total catch numbers are considerably higher than previously assumed, implying current harvest rates are too high. The majority of landings from this area are made by boats using small mesh sizes (70-99 mm). Using small meshes is associated with large quantities of bycatch, including overfished species such as cod and juvenile fish, and high discard rates with rates currently estimated at between 45% and 73% by number for the area. 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 taken 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.

Biology

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

North Sea (Botney Gut to Silver Pit)

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.
Data for this area comes only from fishery catch data, which is insufficient to provide robust stock assessment. Reference points for fishing mortality and stock biomass for the area is unknown and therefore the state of this stock is unknown. Preliminary stock surveys (2010 and 2012) indicate relatively high density compared to neighbouring FUs.
ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, wanted catches in each of the years 2017 and 2018 should be no more than 895 tonnes. ICES cannot quantify the corresponding total catches.
ICES also recommends that management should be implemented at the functional unit level to be effective in managing and protecting the stock.

Management

Nephrops stock 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. The overriding management consideration for these stocks is that management should be at the functional unit (FU) rather than the ICES subarea level. Management at the functional unit level should provide the controls to ensure that catch opportunities and effort are compatible and in line with the scale of the resources in each of the stocks defined by the functional units. Functional unit TAC management is therefore only one way of managing the fisheries and other approaches may also deliver the required safeguards. Current management of Nephrops in Subarea IV (both in terms of TACs and effort) does not provide adequate safeguards to ensure that local effort is sufficiently limited to avoid depletion of resources in functional units. In the current situation vessels are free to move between grounds, allowing effort to develop on some grounds in a largely uncontrolled way and this has historically resulted in inappropriate harvest rates from some parts. A ban on the use of multitrawl gears (three or more trawls) for all Scottish boats was introduced in April 2008, limiting the expansion of effective effort. The Scottish industry operates under the Conservation Credits scheme and has implemented improved selectivity measures in gears which target Nephrops as well as real-time closures with a view to reducing unwanted bycatch of cod and other species. Since 2010 a number of vessels are reported to be using large square-meshed panels (of up to 160 mm). In 2012 most vessels operating in Division IVa and the Farn Deeps fish exclusively with specified highly selective gears (that have been shown to reduce cod catches by 60% by weight) or have installed 200 mm square mesh panels.

Capture Information

The Botney Gut fishery was predominantly exploited by Belgian trawlers initially, although UK and Dutch vessels now take more than 80% of catches. Trawling is often associated with damage to the seabed; however there is evidence to suggest that in the muddy habitats targeted by the Nephrops fishery, animals can recover quickly from disturbance.
Trawl nets targeting Nephrops typically use mesh sizes of 80 mm (in some areas 80-99 mm). 95% of landings in FU 5 are from trawlers using nets with meshes of 70-99 mm. Using small mesh nets results in bycatch and discards of both Nephrops and other species, including cod, haddock and whiting. New discard data indicate that total catch numbers are considerably higher than previously assumed, implying current harvest rates above those associated with MSY for other North Sea Norway lobster stocks.Discard rates are currently estimated at between 45% and 73% by number. This problem is being addressed with the use of more selective gear, and efforts are already being made in Scotland through the Conservation Credits scheme, requiring vessels targeting Nephrops to use gear with larger square-meshed panels (up to 200 mm) or other highly selective gear (HSG) devices such as separator grids or real time closures to reduce unwanted bycatch of cod and other species.
The minimum landing size for nephrops in EU waters is 20-25mm (40mm Skagerrak/Kattegat) total carapace length (CL) depending on area of capture.
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.

References

ICES Advice 2016, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/nep-5.pdf