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Lobster in Northern Ireland waters (ICES areas 6a and 7a), pots and traps

fish

Homarus gammarus

Content last updated
2nd Oct 2017

Stock:
Irish Sea lobster

Management:
Northern Ireland fisheries management

Overview

The European lobster is found in most areas of the British Isles, particularly off rocky coastlines. The diet of the adults consists mainly of benthic invertebrates such as crabs, molluscs, sea urchins, polychaete worms and starfish, but may also include fish and plants. The majority of lobsters are caught in waters shallower than 30 m but they may be found as deep as 150 m. The growth rate of lobsters is highly variable. Individuals recruiting into the fishery at the minimum landing size of 87 mm carapace length can be between 4 and 12 years old. The size at 50% maturity for female lobsters is estimated to range from 77mm carapace length (CL) to over 103mm (Free et al, 1992; Tully et al., 2001; Lizárrago-Cubedo et al., 2003; Cefas, unpublished, 2004; Laurans et al., 2009). Fecundity of lobsters is moderate; ranging from around 5000 eggs at first maturation to 10000 to 20000 for lobsters of around 120mm CL (Hepper & Gough, 1978; Latrouite et al., 1984; Bennett & Howard, 1987; Free et al.,1992; Roberts, 1992; Free, 1994; Tully et al., 2001; Lizárrago-Cubedo et al., 2003; Agnalt, 2007). The potential reproductive life span of a female lobster is in excess of 40 years, although individual females are not thought to spawn every year. Amongst the largest reported lobsters in the UK are a female of 157 mm (carapace length), thought to be about 72 years old, and an 11 lb (5 kg) lobster from the Hebrides estimated as 190 mm carapace length (MSC, 2007; Marine Scotland Science 2015).

This profile is for lobsters from the inshore waters around Northern Ireland. It is comprised of ICES statistical rectangles surrounding Northern Ireland (6a and 7a) and inshore areas within Northern Ireland waters.

Stock Status

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more risk

European lobster in the Irish Sea has been scored a high risk. There is no stock information, and lobster’s life history traits mean it has a moderate to high vulnerability to exploitation.

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Management

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more risk

Stock management of lobsters in Northern Ireland waters has been scored as low risk. Management measures are in place and MLS is enforced at sea and dockside, all vessels submitting logbooks and larger vessels subject to VMS. In addition, Northern Ireland have been v-notching lobsters for more than twelve years.  Genetic analysis has proven v-notching to be an effective stock enhancement tool, with conservative estimates of between 4-15 tonnes of landings in to County Down between 2007 and 2013 being attributed directly to the v-notching scheme.

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Bycatch

less risk

more risk

The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored as Low risk. This is because significant capture of undersized and unwanted crabs and lobster occurs, but these are released alive through ‘escape gaps’ or discarded on hauling and survival rates are believed to be high. Catch of protected, endangered and threatened species is minimal. “Ghost fishing” by lost pots is not considered to be a problem.

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Habitat

less risk

more risk

The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored as low risk. This is because evidence suggests fishery impacts on the sea bed are restricted to some abrasion caused by dragging pots and anchors during hauling and tide and wave action (Grieve et al., 2015). The static gear used to prosecute the fishery is in contact with the bottom, but unlikely to have significant interaction with vulnerable habitats. Vulnerable marine habitats are protected within Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR, 2013) and any kind of fishery there might be controlled if deemed necessary.

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Outlook

Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason

Stock

High Stable

Stock assumed to be stable.

Management

Low Stable

Management regime appears stable.

Bycatch

Low Stable

Pots and traps have very little bycatch impact.

Habitat

Low Stable

Pots and traps have minimal impacts on seafloor habitats.

Nutritional Information

 
Energy
103 (kcal)
5%*
LOW
Fat
1.6 (g)
2%*
LOW
Saturates
0.2 (g)
1%*
LOW
Sugar
0 (g)
0%*
 
Salt
0.83 (g)
14%*

*per 100 g

Nutrition information per 100g boiled product

Rich in Omega-3 | Protein | Vitamin B12 | Phosphorus | Copper | Selenium | Iodine

Good Source Of Zinc | Pantothenic acid

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