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Norway Lobster, 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 (Fladen Ground)
Stock detail - IVa (Management Area G: FU 7)
Accreditation -
Fish type - Shellfish

Sustainability rating Under assessment


Sustainability overview

The Fladen Ground fishery has not changed significantly in recent years, and abundance remains high. The stock is harvested sustainably. Trawl fisheries for scampi (nephrops) are associated with large quantities of bycatch, including overfished species such as cod and juvenile fish. 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.

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 6cm, 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 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 (Fladen Ground)

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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. No specific management objectives are indicated for this area. The Fladen Ground (FU 7) fishery has not changed significantly in recent years, and abundance remains high. The stock size has declined from the highest observed value in 2008 and is just above the MSY Btrigger. The harvest rate has declined in recent years, and fell to approximately 3% in 2013 which is well below FMSY. ICES advises on the basis of the MSY approach that catches in 2015 should be no more than 10 759 t.

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

Over 95% of the landings are taken by Scottish vessels. Most of the landings are made by twin-rig vessels. 8099 mm mesh is the most common mesh size although there is anecdotal evidence of increasing use of meshes larger than 80 mm. Whitefish represents an important bycatch for a significant component of the Scottish Nephrops trawlers operating at the Fladen. The Scottish Industry operates under the Conservation Credits Scheme and has implemented improved selectivity measures in gears which target Nephrops as wells as real-time closures to reduce unwanted bycatch of cod and other species. Since 2010 a number of vessels are reported to be using large square mesh panels (of up to 160 mm). 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 20-25 mm (40mm Skagerrak/Kattegat) total carapace (body) length depending on area of capture. The minimum landing size for Nephrops in the North Sea is 25 mm carapace length. Discarding of both undersize and poor quality Nephrops sometimes takes place at a low rate in this FU. However discard rates in this FU have historically been low compared to other North Sea functional units because of the generally larger size of Nephrops found at the Fladen Ground.

Read more about capture methods


References
ICES Advice 2014, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/Neph-IV.pdf

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