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 (Norwegian Deep)
Stock detail — 4a (FU 32)
Picture of Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

The stock status is unknown but fishing pressure is assumed to be at safe levels.

The nephrops in this area are fished by Norway, Sweden, and Denmark but Denmark and Sweden dominate the fishery. Even in the Norwegian zone of the North Sea, Danish trawlers take around 80-90 % of the catches.

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.

Nearly 60% of the catch in the Norwegian Deep is caught via creels. There is no directed trawl fishery for Nephrops in this functional unit, instead, nephrops are taken as a non-target species in prawn and mixed whitefish fisheries. The mixed whitefish fisheries in Norway target cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, plaice and sole. The Norwegian coastal cod stock has a negative stock status but the North Sea cod and haddock biomass has been improving. The stock status of saithe, plaice and sole is generally healthy.

You can increase the sustainability of the scampi you eat by choosing nephrops caught using creels. If sourcing trawl-caught nephrops, ask for those caught in nets with separator grids and larger meshes (80 mm is the mesh size in general use) which reduce the risk to bycatch species and discards.


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: 0.5 info

Stock Area

North Sea (Norwegian Deep)

Stock information

The stock status is unknown but fishing pressure is assumed to be at a safe level.

The stock status is unknown. Qualitative estimates of fishing mortality suggest that fishing pressure is below possible reference points. There is insufficient information to deduct a trend in biomass.


Criterion score: 0.5 info

Nephrops in Norwegian waters are caught in mixed trawl fisheries and prawn fisheries. Norwegian fisheries management is based on the Marine Resources Act. Management measures include a Norwegian Deep Total Allowable Catch (TAC), rebuilding plans for overfished species, protection of spawning grounds, juveniles and there are area closures to protect sensitive environments.

The minimum mesh sizes of the mixed trawls is 120mm and in the prawn fishery. When fishing for shrimps, nephrops must not exceed 50% of the total weight caught. The minimum size for nephrops is 4cm carapace length, which is much larger than that required in the North Sea. There is no quota set for nephrops in Norway but there is a EU quota applied to nephrops in the Norwegian Zone of the North Sea. Much of the management measures applied to the whitefish mixed fishery were directed at protecting cod stocks. The Cod Management Plan (Council Regulation (EC) 1342/2008, 43/2009 and 1243/2012) mandated effort limits in this fishery, which likely afforded some protection to the nephrops stocks until 2017, when the days-at-sea restrictions were repealed. >br>
A multi-annual plan is expected to be implemented in 2018, which will provide further protection to nephrops stocks.

In Norway, Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) are required for all vessels above 24 m in length. Nephrop stocks are assessed biennially. There is no formal observer programme and interactions with Endangered, Threatened and Protected species go unrecorded.

Enforcement is conducted by the Norwegian Coast Guard and EU Fisheries Inspection. The fleet are required to report their catch through Electronic Reporting Systems (ERS), which provides real-time data to the Directorate of Fisheries and landings must be reported six hours in advance of landing to allow sales inspectors an opportunity to check the catch.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Nephrops live in burrows in the seabed. 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.

Demersal otter trawls use small mesh-sized nets to catch Nephrops and therefore, it can be an unselective fishing gear, catching and discarding a relatively high amount of undersized Nephrops, various whitefish species and flatfish (e.g. haddock, whiting, cod, saithe, hake, plaice, lemon sole, witch, megrim and monkfish). Nearly 60% of the catch in the Norwegian Deep is caught via creels. Trawls that catch Nephrops in this area are normally the mixed trawl fishery (where mesh sizes are 120mm) and the shrimp fishery, where Nephrops are caught as bycatch. There is no directed trawl fishery for Nephrops in this functional unit. Bycatches of Nephrops in these fisheries have declined since the shrimp and mixed fisheries have declined. Because of this, the Norwegian commercial fishery has changed to a coastal trap fishery.

The mixed fisheries in Norway, normally consist of cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, plaice and sole. Whilst the Norwegian coastal cod stock has a negative stock status, the cod biomass in the North Sea has been improving. Haddock populations have been increasing but fishing mortality is slightly too high. The stock status of saithe, plaice and sole is generally healthy.

Nephrops are found in muddy habitats, which are relatively sensitive to trawling impacts. In the Skagerrak, there is a “high sub-surface footprint”, which is “almost exclusively” caused by “high fishing intensities with bottom trawls targeting Nephrops and mixed fish which have a significant sub-surface impact”.

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.


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