Poor Langoustine Season Could Mean Restaurant Shortage
The langoustine served in Höfn, Southeast Iceland, has a reputation for being the best in the country. Yet the town’s main supplier Skinney Þinganes told RÚV its catch from this summer will not be enough to supply restaurants throughout the winter. It’s unclear what is behind the drastic drops in langoustine, or Norway lobster, stocks in recent years.
In a good season, Skinney’s langoustine catch can reach 250-300 tonnes. This summer, it was only 38. Höfn í Hornafirði is known for its langoustine dishes, and the town’s restaurants are a big tourist attraction year round. Skinney’s CEO Ásgeir Gunnarsson says the company will not be able to supply all the town’s restaurants throughout the winter. Chefs will have to find the tasty crustacean elsewhere in Iceland or even import it from abroad.
The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) determines langoustine quotas on a year-to-year basis. No quota was given out this year, although unused quotas from the last fishing year could be used. Low stocks also led the institute to close Lónsdýpi and Jökuldýpi this summer, two of the best langoustine fishing spots off Iceland’s south coast, for a period of one year.
Langoustine is found off of Iceland’s south coast, and caught almost exclusively by companies in Höfn, Þorlákshöfn, and the Westman Islands. Ásgeir says that langoustine fishing reached a peak about one decade ago, when the catch could reach up to 2,200 tonnes per year. “Young lobster has been very rare in this ten-year period. But it should be noted that lobster is caught starting from 3-4 years old, so we know very little about what happens in its first years, we don’t see it in the catch. One hopes it’s making a recovery, but there’s little evidence that points to that.”