Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus. (Photo Credit: Lucas the Scot)
Norway lobster landings plummet
Thursday, May 23, 2013, 02:00 (GMT + 9)
A new scientific article released by Marine Scotland mentions the fact that lower temperatures than usual are one of the environmental factors affecting the yield of the important Norway lobster fishery of Scotland.
Norway lobsters (Nephrops norvegicus), called prawns and marketed as Scottish langoustines or scampi in Scotland, live around the Scottish coast as part of the largest fishery for this species anywhere. This fishery provided GBP 82 million (EUR 96.7 million) to Scotland in 2012, making it the second most valuable fishery after mackerel.
These crustaceans live in areas of the seabed composed of soft mud, where the lobsters build semi-permanent burrows that shelter them from predators. The biggest area of this kind of mud and which hosts the largest Norway lobster population is the Fladen Ground in the northern North Sea and stretching nearly 30,000 sqkm.
In the first four months of 2013, Norway lobster landings have plummeted by 52 per cent, representing an 11-year-low and following a poor year in 2012, for unknown reasons. The situation has also replicated on the West Coast this year, though not as dramatically.
This year’s value of North Sea Norway lobsters landed by Scottish prawn vessels so far this year has been 62 per cent lower than in the same period in 2012.
Besides, the North Sea vessel landings and value for the first trimester (January-April) is lower than in any of the previous 11 years.
The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary has since urgently requested a brief summary of the problem from Marine Scotland.
“North Sea prawns were worth GBP 34.6 million (EUR 40.8 million) to Scotland’s fishermen last year, so the impact of this situation on the 99 boats fishing for prawn in the Fladens is huge,” Scotland’s Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead said.
He admitted that environmental phenomena can disrupt fishing activities from time to time, and said everyone hopes this will only be a short-term problem.
“Recent unusual environmental conditions appear to be limiting the emergence of the Nephrops from the burrows in which they live, this in turn is limiting the opportunities for a fishery,” explained Marine Scotland Scientist Nick Bailey, author of the article.
“The reasons for this are unclear but this may be because of lower than usual water temperatures or prolonged spells of severe weather in the winter which have affected the hydrodynamics of the region,” he added.
By Natalia Real