EU landings of Nephrops are well below the EU quota, partly because of the cod recovery plan for cod, reports Tim Oliver.

This applies particularly in the North Sea, where Nephrops grounds have been closed to protect cod. This has disturbed traditional fishing patterns and increased the natural predation rate of cod on Nephrops.
Also, many vessels using prawn trawls with a relatively low size selectivity have resulted in Nephrops catches below the MLS, which are discarded, leading to a smaller landings volume.

Nephrops in the North Sea and North Western Waters are included in the landings obligation in 2017. Some discarding is allowed because Nephrops have a high survivability rate, though there are different rules in each region and for different types of gear and mesh sizes.

In a survey of Nephrops catches and the market in the EU, the EU Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture (EUMOFA) says the EU is by far the biggest catching region of Nephrops in the world, and is the main consumer market.

The main EU fishing and export nations are the UK, Denmark, and Ireland, while the main markets are in southern Europe – Italy, Spain, and France.

Most of the EU’s share of the Nephrops TAC is taken around Britain and Ireland, the Norwegian sector of the North Sea and Faroe. In 2016, the quota for EU vessels in both EU and foreign waters was 69,840t – a 9% increase over 2015.

The UK has 51% of the EU quota, followed by Denmark (14%), France (14%), and Ireland (13%).

In 2015, more than 99% of the landings of Nephrops by the EU fleet were fresh. 65% by volume was landed in the UK, 45% of the total value. The volume was a 17% decrease from 2014. Fraserburgh, Kilkeel and Mallaig were the top three ports. Scottish vessels accounted for most UK landings – in 2015 they landed approximately 16,500t (75%).


The EU is the major market for Nephrops and consumes most of its own landings. In 2015, 1,094t of Nephrops worth EUR €16.57m were imported from non-EU countries. Around 90% of these imports by value were frozen products, mainly from Iceland. The remaining 10% included fresh products and were mainly from Norway.

In 2015, the EU exported 244t of Nephrops worth EUR €3.1m to non-EU countries. The main markets were the USA and India, each accounting for 17% of the export value.

In the EU, in 2015, Nephrops were ranked 14th as the highest value seafood species traded internally in the EU, at approximately EUR €262m – 1% of the total value. In comparison, salmon and cod accounted for 25% and 8% respectively. Salmon and cod were also the top two exported species by value.

Denmark and the UK are the main EU exporters of all Nephrops products, accounting for 24% and 22% of the total value respectively.

In the EU, Nephrops were the third most valuable seafood product exported by the UK, at EUR €117.73m, after salmon and scallops. About 56% (EUR €65.6m) of the exported value of Nephrops from the UK to other EU member states in 2015 was frozen products, mainly to Italy (46%) and Spain (34%). The remaining 44% (EUR €51.7m) was fresh product, exported mainly to France (65%).

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