Good Fish Guide
Lobster, Norway, Langoustine, Dublin Bay prawn or scampi
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)
Fish type - Shellfish
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.
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.
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.
North Sea (Fladen Ground)
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 until the lowest abundance estimate in the time-series in 2015. In 2016 the stock size increased again and is now above MSY Btrigger. The harvest rate has declined in recent years and remains well below FMSY.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2017 should not exceed 12 699 tonnes.
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.
Under the EU landings Obligation (Discard ban) there are two exemptions in place for vessels fishing for Nephrops: A High survival rate exemption allows animals below the Minimum Conservation Size (MCS) or undersized Nephrops to be returned to the sea or discarded. It also allows Unwanted animals to be discarded if taken in pots or in trawls provided a selectivity device is fitted; A De Minimus exemption also allows vessels to discard a limited amount of Nephrops below the MCS.
Over 99% of the landings are taken by Scottish vessels. Most of the landings are made by twin-rig vessels. 80-99 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). Since 2011, discard rates in this FU have been close to zero and mean sizes of landed Norway lobster show a clear increase, suggesting a selectivity change. 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. 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.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.
ICES Advice 2016, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/nep-7_reopen.pdf
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