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 (Farn Deeps)
Stock detail — IVb (Management Area I: FU 6)
Picture of Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Sustainability rating five info

Sustainability overview

The stock size in this area has been generally declining since 2005 and has been below MSY Btrigger since 2012, and was in 2015 the lowest of the time-series. Fishing pressure is also too high.
Trawl fisheries for scampi (nephrops) are associated with large quantities of bycatch, including overfished species such as cod and juvenile fish. In the Celtic Sea fishery, high bycatches of cod, whiting, and some haddock and hake are reported. 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.

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 (Farn Deeps)

Stock information

The stock size has been generally declining since 2005 and has been below MSY Btrigger since 2012, and was in 2015 the lowest of the time-series. However the results of the most recent survey became available in November 2016 and showed a significant increase in biomass above the 2015 level. Harvest rates have been above FMSY for all years except 2008.
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 1143 tonnes. This would imply wanted catch of no more than 1020 tonnes.

Management

There is a single total allowable catch (TAC) for all of ICES Subarea IV (The North Sea). 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. This was a particular problem in the Farn Deeps where increased vessel activity from other parts of the UK occurred, resulting in overfishing.

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.

Since April 2016 additional management measure have been adopted with the aim of reducing fishing mortality to achieve Fmsy (fishing mortality at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels) for the Farn Deeps by 2017. These measures include: a minimum mesh size of 90mm using single twine of 5 mm; only single-rig vessels of 350 kW (476 hp) or less will be permitted to fish within 12 NM of the coast; Multi-rig vessels (vessels with three or more rigs) will be prohibited from operating within the Farn Deeps. Twin rig vessels will be permitted to operate outside 12 NM; No vessel will be permitted to use gear with more than one codend per rig. These measures go some way to introducing management at the FU as recommended by ICES, but it is not yet clear what the actual impact of the measures will be on fishing mortality for the functional unit.

Capture Information

Nephrops in FU 6 are almost entirely taken in trawl fisheries using small meshes (70-99 mm). Increases in the numbers of vessels using twin-rig and multi-rig gears observed in this area are likely to have increased the effective fishing power per kW hour. 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. Discarding of Nephrops is 12% of total catch.

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 fished exclusively with specified highly selective gears (that have been shown to reduce cod catches by 60% by weight) or had installed 200 mm square mesh panels.

References

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