Lobster

Hommarus gammarus

Lobster

Image | Illustration copywrite Sarah McCartney Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Description

A beautiful dark blue crustacean that is in big demand by the public and commands a very high price. The Claw and tail meat is considered a delicacy. Females with eggs are protected so you can eat lobster at any time of year. Pot caught lobster caught inside of Cornwall's six mile limit is  the best good choice due to better managment by Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.


Sustainability Overview

Stocks of lobster in Cornish waters appear to be relatively healthy and according to studies carried out by CEFAS the stocks are above minimum recommended level but below Maximum Sustainable Yield. (CEFAS 2014) fishing effort is currently higher than maximum sustainable yield. Pot caught lobsters that are under sized can be put back into the sea and survival rate is extremely high. Each year thousands of juvenile lobsters are released all around Cornwall's coast by the National Lobster Hatchery, Padstow. Cornwall inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority manage lobster fisheries closely thorough minimum landing sizes, limits to number of shellfish licences and local by-laws. 

Updated October 2017

Find local fish

When is best to eat?

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
1
2
3
4
5

Potting

Outside Cornwalls 6 mile limits

Out side the 6 mile limit there is no ban on landing female lobsters and the minimum landing sizes are smaller. Potting here is still selective and low impact but stocks are not as well protected.

Learn more
1
2
3
4
5

Potting

Cornwall within 6 mile limits

Pot caught lobster is the best choice. Potting is a selective, low impact fishery and there are many local by laws that protect the stocks of Lobster. It is illegal to land berried females from within the 6 mile limit in Cornish waters.

Learn more
1
2
3
4
5

Gill Netting

Cornish waters

Gill netting using monofilament nets is far less selective and has more issues with by catch of non target species such as rare sharks, skates and cetaceans.

Learn more

How we rate fish

1
2
3
4
5

Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.

Sustainability Overview

Stocks of lobster in Cornish waters appear to be relatively healthy and according to studies carried out by CEFAS the stocks are above minimum recommended level but below Maximum Sustainable Yield. (CEFAS 2014) fishing effort is currently higher than maximum sustainable yield. Pot caught lobsters that are under sized can be put back into the sea and survival rate is extremely high. Each year thousands of juvenile lobsters are released all around Cornwall's coast by the National Lobster Hatchery, Padstow. Cornwall inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority manage lobster fisheries closely thorough minimum landing sizes, limits to number of shellfish licences and local by-laws. 

Updated October 2017

Lobster

Biology

Lobsters are long lived crustaceans that inhabit coastal waters from rockpools down to depths of over 100m. They are relatively slow growing but once they reach reproductive age they are capable of producing large numbers of larvae each year.  Lobsters can grow up to 100cm in total length and are thought to live for up to 100 years. Lobster larvae are distributed in the plankton before settling out onto the seabed. 
Lobsters are opportunistic predators and scavengers and feed on a wide variety of prey including other crustaceans, worms fish and molluscs. 
 
 

Stock Info

The latest study of lobster populations was carried out by CEFAS in 2014 where they state that lobster stocks in the South west are moderate, being above critical levels but not yet at the maximum sustainable yield, and exploitation levels are not too high.From the CEFAS 2014 report 'Spawning biomass levels are between the minimum reference point limit and the level associated with MSY but is decreasing, particularly for females. The exploitation level is between MSY target level and the maximum reference point limit for both sexes and has been increasing since 2010. The status of the stock has not changed since the last assessment in 2012'. We are awaiting a more up to date report from CEFAS.

Management

There is currently no limit on the number of lobsters caught which some say is a risk for this stock but current management has shown to have resulted in sustainable levels of catches over the past 20 years. In Cornish inshore waters lobster management is through an increased minimum landing size (90mm carapace length - EC Min size is 87cm) and by a ban on landing berried females (female lobster carrying eggs)within CIFCA district (ie out to 6 nautical miles). The stock is supplemented by releases of juvenile lobsters by the National Lobster hatchery each year.  Outside Cornwall’s 6 mile limit national lobster minimum landing size applies (87mm) and it is permitted to land berried female lobster). National legislation restricts the number of shellfish licences held and also prohibits the landing of  v -notched females (females which have had a notch cut out of the tail fin by a fisherman voluntarily). In October 2017 a national ban on landing berried lobsters in all UK waters was brought in which will have positive benefits for managment of this species.  A positive development iis the creation of a Fisheries Improvement Plan for Southwest crab and lobster pot fisheries. Through this an ambitious plan will be created that provides the fishery the tools to implement changes and to ensure their sustainable future.

Capture Info

Lobsters are mainly caught in rocky areas and on the edges of rocky reefs and the majority are caught in pots although occasionally they are caught in gill nets and trawls. There are several different designs of crab and lobster pots that are used by Cornish fishermen. Traditional inkwell pots were originally constructed from willow withy’s but nowadays pots are constructed from steel and nylon net with plastic fittings.  All are baited traps that allow crabs in but prevent them from easily escaping. Pots are dropped down to the seabed and are left for several hours or days before being retrieved. Any undersized crustaceans can be returned unharmed and in Cornwall there is little impact on the seabed on which the pots are deployed.

Recipes for Lobster

Prev Next

Sustainable alternative recipies

Prev Next