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 (Devil's Hole)
Stock detail — IVb (FU 34)
Picture of Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

The state of the stock in this area is unknown. 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

North Sea (Devil's Hole)

Stock information

The state of the stock is unknown. The mean survey density indicated the stock was declining between 2009 and 2011 but is currently stable.
ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, and under the assumptions that discarding would occur only below minimum conservation size (MCS) and that fishery selection patterns do not change from the average (2008-2011), catches in each of the years 2017 and 2018 should not exceed 492 tonnes. This would imply wanted catch of no more than 459 tonnes. Catches and discards are unknown.

Management

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.

Capture Information

The Nephrops fishery at Devil's Hole is prosecuted by around twenty vessels on a regular basis. There is no discard information for this fishery. International landings are only available for the last four years. Anecdotal reports indicate that most of the landings have been made by Scottish vessels. 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.

References

ICES Advice 2016, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/nep-34.pdf