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Homarus gammarus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA ARTHROPODA MALACOSTRACA DECAPODA NEPHROPIDAE

Scientific Name: Homarus gammarus
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English European Lobster
French Homard Européen
Spanish Bogavante
Synonym(s):
Astacus europaeus Couch, 1837
Astacus gammarus Pennant, 1777
Astacus marinus Fabricius, 1775
Cancer gammarus H. Milne Edwards, 1837
Homarus marinus Weber, 1795
Homarus vulgaris H. Milne Edwards, 1837

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2009-12-03
Assessor(s): Butler, M., Cockcroft, A., MacDiarmid, A. & Wahle, R.
Reviewer(s): Collen, B., Livingstone, S. & Richman, N.
Contributor(s): Batchelor, A., De Silva, R., Dyer, E., Kasthala, G., Lutz, M.L., McGuinness, S., Milligan, H.T., Soulsby, A.-M. & Whitton, F.
Justification:
Homarus gammarus has been assessed as Least Concern. This species has a broad geographic range and is common in areas of suitable habitat. Despite commercial exploitation of this species for food, the global annual catch of this species has shown a steady increase over the last 30 years.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species has a broad, geographic range across the eastern Atlantic Ocean. In the northern part of its range it can be found from the Lofoten Islands in Norway, to the southeast of Sweden and Denmark, though cannot be found in the Baltic Sea. Its range then extends along coastal mainland Europe, including the United Kingdom and Ireland, south to the coast of Morocco. It can also be found along the coastline of the Mediterranean and the western Black Sea, though is not found in such great abundance (Holthuis 1991, Cobb and Castro 2006, Prödohl et al. 2007).
Countries:
Native:
Albania; Algeria; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark; Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Guernsey; Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Jersey; Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Monaco; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Portugal (Azores, Madeira, Portugal (mainland), Selvagens); Romania; Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Canary Is., Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Sweden; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe); Ukraine; United Kingdom (Great Britain)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – northeast; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This is an abundant species that is harvested in commercial quantities in parts of its range. The main fishing grounds are now the United Kingdom, Ireland, Channel Islands and France (Cobbs and Castro 2006). Landings were relatively steady until 1963 when they peaked at 4,800 tonnes and then dropped to around 2,300 tonnes. In the 1970s, landings fell further to around 1,800-1,900 tonnes but started to show signs of recovery in the early 1980s when they fluctuated between 2-3,000 tonnes. In 2006, 2007, 2008 landings were at around 4,300 tonnes (FISHSTAT Plus 2000).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found within the continental shelf to depths of 150 m, though is more commonly found at depths above 50 m (Holthuis 1991). It is typically found on rocky substrates, but may also burrow into cohesive mud or form depressions in sand (Cobb and Castro 2006). This species uses rocky reefs for shelter, especially during moulting. It is a nocturnal species which feeds on mussels, hermit crabs and polychaetes. The European Lobster will not typically mature before 5-8 years; although like many other lobster species, this is largely dependent on water temperature (Prodöhl et al. 2007).

Spawning usually occurs during the summer months and eggs are carried for 9-12 months.  Planktonic larvae may be dispersed widely over a development time of 5-10 weeks, while adult lobsters typically move over relatively short distances (M. Bell pers. comm. 2010).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is commercially harvested throughout much of its range as a food source for humans.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The greatest threat is the commercial scale exploitation of this species as a human food source. This species is harvested throughout its range, but the main fisheries occur around the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and the Channel Islands (Cobb and Castro 2006). This species was once taken in greater quantities in both Norway and Turkey, but significant declines in population size in the 1960s and 1970s have reduced the annual catch to a fraction of what it was formerly (FAO 2009). However, since the 1980s global landings of this species have been steadily increasing (FAO 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are a number of local and national regulations in place to prevent over-exploitation of the European Lobster fishery. A number of countries have imposed national minimum legal size limits, closed fishing seasons, and have prohibited the collecting of berried females. In an effort to protect lobster spawning potential in some areas, berried females caught may be V-notched on the tail before being returned to the sea.  Under local by-laws or voluntary bans, such lobsters may not be landed until the V-notch has grown out (M. Bell. pers. comm. 2010). As of January 2002 an EU wide minimum legal size of 87 mm (CL) was imposed (Cobb and Castro 2006). This species occurs in a number of marine protected areas.

Aquaculture production of lobsters is a small industry at present, but there is a growing interest in its potential for areas where there have been significant population declines. There are 3 types of aquaculture practice: product enhancement, resource enhancement and full grow out. Product enhancement removes undersized wild individuals and then maintains them in culture facilities where they are fed until they reach a marketable size. Resource enhancement or stock enhancement has been practised for the last century, especially within north american and european fisheries. Local fisheries are regularly stocked with hatchery reared individuals. This practise was developed at a time when there was some concern that the wild fisheries would not be able to keep with the rate at which wild stocks were being exploited.

Bibliography [top]

Cobb, J.S. and Castro, K.M. 2006. Homarus species. In: Phillips, B. (ed.), Lobsters. Biology, Management, Aquaculture and Fisheries, pp. 506. Blackwell Publishing Limited.

FAO. 2009. Report of the Third Session of the Scientific Committee (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Report No. 899). South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission, Maputo, Mozambique.

FISHSTAT Plus. 2000. Universal software for fishery statistical time series Version 2.3.

Holthuis, L.B. 1991. Marine lobsters of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species of interest to fisheries known to date. FAO species catalogue 13(125). FAO, Rome.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 16 June 2011).

Prodöhl, P. A., Jørstad, K. E., Triantafyllidis, A., Katsares, V. and Triantaphyllidis, C. 2007. Genetic effects of domestication, culture and breeding of fi sh and shell fi sh, and their impacts on wild populations. European lobster – Homarus gammarus..


Citation: Butler, M., Cockcroft, A., MacDiarmid, A. & Wahle, R. 2013. Homarus gammarus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 18 September 2014.
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