Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — West Scotland (North Minch)
Stock detail —
VIa (Management Area C, FU 11)
Trawl fisheries for scampi (nephrops) are associated with large quantities of bycatch, including overfished species such as cod, haddock and whiting. Whiting bycatch is largely discarded and the stock biomass for whiting in the area low compared to historic estimates and the stock suffering reduced reproductive capacity. Under the Scottish Conservation Credits Scheme and the west coast emergency measures, Nephrops trawlers are required to use more selective gears designed to release fish. 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.
West Scotland (North Minch)
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.
Landings in the North Minch fishery (FU 11) have been relatively stable in last 30 years and the stock above MSY Btrigger level (541 million individuals!) for 18 years. The historical harvest rate has fluctuated around the FMSY proxy and is now below this proxy.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, and assuming that discard rates and fishery selection patterns do not change from the average of 2013-2015, catches in 2017 should be no more than 3814 tonnes. This implies landings of no more than 3610 tonnes.
To ensure that the stock in functional unit (FU) 11 is exploited sustainably, scientists further advise that management should be implemented at the functional unit level.
No specific management objectives are known to ICES. 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.
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 Minimum Conservation Size (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.
Trawling is the predominant fishing method (86%) and fishing takes place all year round. Of these trawlers, 62% are using small meshes, 70-99 mm, with only 24% of trawls using meshes > 100 mm)
Trawling for Nephrops with nets with mesh sizes smaller (70-99 mm) than those used to target whitefish is associated with bycatch and discarding of both undersized Nephrops and non-target species such as whiting.
The average discard rate of Nephrops by weight for the trawl fishery in North Minch over the last three years is reported as 6.4%.
The whiting stock biomass for the West of Scotland area (VI) has increased slightly from an all time low in 2005, but remains very low compared to historic estimates and is below Blim with the stock suffering reduced reproductive capacity. Scientists have advised a zero catch for West Coast whiting since 2006. However the total agreed catch (TAC) for the fishery has been above that recommended by scientists for the past 10 years.
Whiting is discarded for a number of reasons. It may be discarded because it is under size or over quota or discarded because of it’s low value. Whiting has been identified as a major ‘choke species’ for the Nephrops fishery in the area in the context of the landing obligation (LO) or discards ban (see management summary for more information).
Choke species are fish species for which quotas are so limited relative to local or general abundance that the imposition of a LO in a mixed fishery is liable to result in fishing vessels having to cease operations well before they have caught their main quota allocations.
In 2015 86% of the whiting catch taken in area VI was discarded with 77% of these discards coming from the Nephrops trawl fishery; In 2014 84% of the catch was discarded, 58% of it by vessels trawling for Nephrops; and in 2013 81% was discarded, with only 20% discarded by vessels fishing for Nephrops with small mesh ners (TR2 fleet).
The Scottish Nephrops fleet however have been actively working towards, and implementing, improved selectivity measures in small mesh trawls which are specifically aimed at reducing whitefish catches and discards, and are now operating on the West Coast with several approved gears such as sorting grids and square-mesh panels. But despite the widespread use of larger meshes and selective devices the amount of whiting discarded by boats trawling for Nephrops remains high.
Bycatch of cod is low, and measures such as Real Time Closures and the use of square meshed panels are expected to reduce them further.
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.
The minimum landing size (MLS) for nephrops in EU waters is 20-25mm (40mm Skagerrak/Kattegat) total carapace length, depending on area of capture.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.Abalone
Clam, Manila (Farmed)
Clam, Manila, Japanese carpet shell (Caught at sea)
Crab, brown or edible
Crawfish, Red Swamp
Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi
Mussel, mussels (Caught at sea)
Mussel, mussels (Farmed)
Oyster, Native, oysters
Oyster, Native, oysters (Farmed)
Oyster, Pacific, oysters
Prawn, Endeavour, Greasy back
Prawn, King (whiteleg), prawns
Prawn, Northern, prawns
Prawn, Tiger prawns
Scallop, King, scallops
Scallop, Queen, scallops
Squid, Japanese flying
ReferencesICES Advice 2016, Book 5 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/nep-11.pdf;