Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Nephrops norvegicus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Pot or creel
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — West Scotland (North Minch)
Stock detail — VIa (Management Area C, FU 11)
Picture of Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

Trawl fisheries for scampi (nephrops) are associated with large quantities of bycatch, including overfished species such as cod, haddock and whiting. Pots or creels are a much more selective method of fishing, as immature or egg carrying animals can be returned to the sea alive and bycatch of overfished species is not an issue. The method also tends to produce a larger, higher quality product.

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

West Scotland (North Minch)

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.
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.

Management

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.

Capture Information

Pots or creels are a much more selective method of fishing, as immature or egg carrying animals can be returned to the sea alive. The method also tends to produce a larger, higher quality product. The minimum landing size for Nephrops in EU waters is 20-25mm (40mm Skagerrak/Kattegat) total carapace length depending on area of capture. For this area it is 20mm. Landing live 'tubed' prawns is now common in the creel sector on the NE coast and throughout the west coast of Scotland.

References

ICES Advice 2016, Book 5 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/nep-11.pdf