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 (South Minch)
Stock detail

6a (Management Area C, FU 12)

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

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

The nephrop populations in this area are above safe levels but have been declining substantially in recent years. Fishing mortality is currently at safe levels but is approaching levels that are too high.

Nephrops fisheries are managed mainly using area restrictions, a total allowable catch, effort restrictions and technical measures. However, these areas are often too large to manage Nephrops effectively. This has historically resulted in fishing vessels concentrating their effort on favoured fishing grounds in a largely uncontrolled way, leading to overfishing and depletion of some Nephrops populations in the past, like in the Farn Deeps. Therefore, scientists advise that management should be implemented at the functional unit (FU) level.

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.


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

Criterion score: 0 info

Stock Area

West Scotland (South Minch)

Stock information

The nephron populations in this area are above safe levels but have been declining substantially in recent years. Fishing mortality is currently at safe levels but is approaching levels that are too high.

Abundance has been decreasing sharply since 2016 and is now slightly above MSY Btrigger. The harvest rate has increased since 2014 but is below FMSY.


Criterion score: 0.75 info

There is currently no management plan in this area. There are multiple management measures and a variety of enforcement is employed in the fishery. Management in the creel fishery is less stringent, as they tend to have a smaller impact on the Nephrops, bycatch and habitat. The main management measure is a total allowable catch (TAC). The creel fishery is exempt from the discard ban as the discard rate of the fleet is small (about 6%). New measures are expected to be implemented under the new Multi-Annual Plan due in mid-2018.

Whilst management measures exist in the fishery, quota management may not be wholly effective: quota is not applied at the functional unit level and therefore, the stock is at risk of overfishing. Nephrops stock assessments are conducted by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Stock assessments are produced for 33 areas across the Northeast Atlantic, called functional units. However, management is applied to a separate 18 areas, called management units. These management units broadly overlap with the functional units, but not very effectively, previously resulting in overfishing. The North West Advisory Council has advised TACs to be allocated at a functional unit level, so that TACs are appropriate for the Nephrops in each functional unit.

The quota used in this area in 2017 was below that recommended by scientific advice: ICES advised that catches in 2017 should be no more than 6419 tonnes, in that year total catches in 2017 were 4767 tonnes. There is a high discard ratio of undersized Nephrops in this area.

The mean density of Nephrops is monitored through regular surveys conducted using underwater television (UWTV) per functional unit. These along with landings data, discards data and length-frequency data from at-sea and port monitoring, are used to conduct an annual stock assessment. The stock assessment is conducted at a functional unit level, providing the abundance and fishing mortality, relative to reference points. All landings of Nephrops that are over 12kg must be recorded in logbooks. Discards and catches of prohibited and undersized species must be recorded.

Surveillance occurs through monitoring of logbooks and sales notes. All vessels over 10m must keep EU logbooks, but vessels under 10m, do not have to keep logbooks. There is mandatory Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) for vessels over 12m length, an electronic reporting system and a vessel detection system.

In conclusion, there are multiple management measures and a variety of enforcement employed in the fishery, though the quota is not applied at the functional unit level and therefore, the stock is at risk of overfishing. However, catches are below that recommended in scientific advice.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0 info

Nephrops live in burrows in muddy seabeds. Therefore, to capture Nephrops, fishing vessels use fishing gear near or on the seabed such as demersal trawls and creels. Nephrops are predominantly caught using demersal trawls. Pots or creels are a much more selective method of fishing compared to the trawls as immature or egg carrying animals can be returned to the sea alive.

Skippers generally aim for where nephron populations are likely to be highest, therefore, bycatch in creel fisheries is generally low. Bycatch generally includes whelks, and hermit crabs. The discarded catch is small (around 6% of total catch) and usually includes brown crab, velvet crab and lobster, which are likely to survive discarding.

Of concern in the creel fishery, is the potential for entangling whales in Scottish waters. Over half of all baleen whales that have stranded may have died due to entanglement. Creel ropes were attributed to the fishing gear involved in several instances. The creeling fishery may also impact humpback whale, but with a lack of information and no requirement to report entanglements, the true number of entanglements is unknown.

The impact of creels on the seabed is likely to be low: they are normally set on a mud surface but can sometimes impact sessile species. Though, the impact of creels on sea pens is considered minimal.

To mitigate their impact, under the National Marine Planning process, habitats are being mapped in Scottish waters. Burrowed mud habitat is mapped as a priority marine feature, as per OSPAR Convention legislation.

There is a potential for ghost fishing as an estimated 7-8% of creels that are fished may be lost per year.

Creeling produces a larger, higher quality product. Landing live ‘tubed’ prawns is now common in the creel sector on the northeast coast and throughout the west coast of Scotland.

There are a number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in this Functional Unit which are in need of protection from damaging activities. The nephrops fishery is known to overlap with parts of these MPAs, but it is not clear by how much. For these components, MCS considers bottom trawling in MPAs as a default red rating unless there is evidence (such as an environmental impact assessment (EIA)) indicating the activity does not damage the integrity of the site.


ICES. 2018. Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) in Division 6.a, Functional Unit 12 (West of Scotland, South Minch). Available at: http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2017/2017/nep.fu.12.pdf. Published Updated: 31 October 2017. DOI: 10.17895/ices.pub.3385

Lamb, S. 2011. Summary of results and findings of the Orkney shellfish research study 2010/11. Part funded by EU Fisheries Fund and Orkney Island Council.

Marine Scotland. 2018. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DEMERSAL LANDING OBLIGATION IN 2018 MARINE SCOTLAND GUIDANCE FOR SCOTTISH FISHING VESSELS. Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Sea-Fisheries/discards/demersal/DemersalLandingObligation-GuidancetoSkippers.


NEF. 2016. The Scottish Nephrops fishery: Applying social, economic, and environmental criteria. Available at: https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Griffin-Nephrops-latest.pdf