MFRI Suggests a Total Ban on Langoustine Fishing

Iceland‘s Marine & Freshwater Research Institude (MFRI) has suggested a total ban on langoustine fishing in 2022 and 2023.

Langoustine numbers in the country‘s fisheries have been extremely low in the past few years. The size of the langoustine population has shrunk by 27% since 2016 and this year, the total catch of langoustine was the smallest ever recorded.

See also: Langoustine Numbers at Record Low

Because of the declining population, MRFI introduced significant fishing limitations on langoustine last year, which entailed a ban on fishing more langoustine than needed to maintain scientific research. If their new suggestions will be heeded, no lobster fishing will be allowed for at least two years to protect the population, not even for scientific purposes.

The MRFI has also suggested a ban on bottom trawling in defined areas in Breiðamerkurdjúp, Hornafjarðardjúp and Lónsdjúp, in order to protect the langoustine.

Langoustine may disappear from the Icelandic market

Langoustine is the only species of lobster that can be found in Iceland’s fisheries. The species is mostly caught in the fisheries off the south coast of Iceland, by companies based in Höfn, Þorlákshöfn and Vestmannaeyjar.  It is considered a delicacy in the country and is commonly eaten at Christmas and other festive occasions. Through the years, langoustine has been a popular dish at the country‘s seafood restaurants.

See also: Poor Langoustine Season Could Mean Restaurant Shortage

Scientist do not know what has caused of the decline of the langoustine stocks around Iceland. In an interview with RÚV, a deep-sea specialist at MRFI said that full recovery of the langoustine population would take at least five to ten years. He warned that if the langoustine population fails to recover, it may disappear completely from the Icelandic market.

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.”

Can you tell me more about the delicious Icelandic lobster?


Q: Last time I visited Iceland, I ate Icelandic lobster. It was delicious. Can you tell me more about it?

A: The Latin name of the species is Nephrops norvegicus and it’s a type of small lobster. In English, it goes by the name of Norway lobster, Atlantic shrimp, scampi, and langoustine. It’s the only lobster caught in the waters around Iceland, so in Icelandic, it’s simply called humar (lobster), even though the technically correct term is leturhumar (Norway lobster).

The tail is the only part of this lobster that’s large enough to eat. A popular dish in Iceland is humarsúpa or lobster soup, a hearty soup with curry powder, vegetables, and langoustine best eaten with a dot or heavy cream and chives on top. You can find frozen langoustine tails in most supermarkets and they’re easy to prepare if you would like to have a go at it yourself. However, if you prefer dining out, it might be good to know that the lobster capital of Iceland is Höfn, a town in the east. Höfn is famous for its lobster cuisine, from lobster pizza to grilled langoustines served with garlic butter.

You will find plenty of options in Reykjavík, too. You might want to check out The Seabaron’s menu next time you’re in town, their lobster soup is the stuff of legends!

The langoustine is undoubtedly delicious but unfortunately, the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute has recently expressed concerns over langoustine stock numbers and in recent years, catches have been on the decline. According to a scientist from the institute, a fishing ban (or lobstering ban, in this case) is a possibility, although further research is needed.