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 (Moray Firth)
Stock detail

IVa (Management Area F: FU 9)

Picture of Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Trawl fisheries for scampi (nephrops) are associated with large quantities of bycatch, including overfished species such as cod and juvenile fish. Discarding of undersized nephrops is also a common feature of these fisheries, although rates for this particular fishery are relatively low at around 10%. 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 (80 mm is the mesh size in general use) 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

North Sea (Moray Firth)

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.
The stock has remained above MSY Btrigger. The harvest rate has fluctuated and is now below FMSY
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, and under the assumptions that discarding would occur only below the minimum conservation size (MCS) and that fishery selection patterns do not change from the average (2013-2015), catches in 2017 should not exceed 1070 tonnes. This would imply wanted catch of no more than 1018 tonnes.


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. At the end of 2012, a new voluntary code of conduct for Nephrops trawlers (Moray Firth Prawn Agreement) was agreed amongst fishers for the Inner Moray Firth so as to protect the viability of smaller vessels based in the area. The agreement proposes that an area in the most westerly part of the Moray Firth be reserved for vessels under 300 HP, with a further small area reserved for vessels under 400 HP.

Capture Information

The Moray Firth Nephrops fishery is essentially a Scottish fishery, with only occasional landings made by vessels from elsewhere in the UK. Vessels typically conduct day trips from the nearby ports along the Moray Firth coast. In 2012 and 2013 an increasing number of larger vessels from Peterhead/Fraserburgh visited the Moray Firth grounds.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 (body) length 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.


ICES Advice 2016, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/nep-9.pdf