Last week the Marine Research Institute of Iceland (Hafrannsóknastofnun) released findings from its annual langoustine stock-measuring expedition, which occurred this past May. Measurements were made at 55 locations along the coast, from Jökulsdjúp in the southwest, just off of Reykjavík, to Lónsdjúp in the east.
Langoustine, also known as Norway lobster, is a small lobster which inhabits Atlantic waters as far North as Iceland, and as far South as the Mediterranean, and is of great commercial value to those nations with access to its stocks.
Stocks this year measured just under the average for the past 25 years, but have been dwindling since the record-setting year, 2008.
Most of the animals caught by the research team were mature 10-12 year-old lobsters and the proportion of older animals, of age 14 or more, has never been greater. Of particular alarm is the record low number of young animals in the catch, an indication of lower breeding numbers in recent years.
As the Marine Research Institute has noted, the redistribution of Icelandic stocks further north has been documented recently, and has been determined to be due to rising sea temperatures. In 2012 langoustine was first caught in Ísafjarðardjúp in the Westfjords, and measurements are planned for the area off of Snæfellsnes, where langoustine has never been commercially fished, but has recently been caught in increasing numbers along with other fish.
Langoustine is currently listed as being “of least concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.