Journal Article

Discarding Norway lobster (<i>Nephrops norvegicus</i> L.) through low salinity layers – mortality and damage seen in simulation experiments

R.R Harris and M Ulmestrand

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 61, issue 1, pages 127-139
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Discarding Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus L.) through low salinity layers – mortality and damage seen in simulation experiments

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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The Kattegat/Skagerrak Nephrops fishery is unusual in that animals normally live in high salinities (33–34 psu) but are raised through a low salinity surface layer and, if discarded, descend back through it to the sea bed. In other open-sea Nephrops fisheries, such low salinity exposure is rare. Physiologically the species is described as being marine stenohaline, i.e. intolerant of reduced salinities, and a lower salinity limit of 29–30 for its distribution has been suggested. Using CTD data from the Anholt E hydrographic station, near to known Nephrops grounds, a knowledge of hauling times (including washing the cod-end with surface water) and of the sinking rate of Nephrops, we simulated conditions experienced by the catch in this fishery. We also included a period of emersion (air exposure) on deck during sorting or reshooting the trawl. Blood electrolytes, body mass changes and simple behavioural responses were examined before and after the simulation over a 5-day period. “Discarded” Nephrops experienced significant haemodilution and gained mass rapidly. Animals showed slow rates of “tail-flipping”, or absence of responses to stimulation, in the period immediately following return to salinity 33 seawater, although many showed recovery later. Delayed effects included abdominal stiffness, swelling and further mortalities (25–42% overall). Controls (exposed to 33 psu seawater only) showed good survival and vigorous responses, even with a period of emersion. The effects of salinity exposure, which are additional to the stresses of being trawled, on the fitness of discarded animals were evaluated. Our results suggest that Nephrops discard mortality in this fishery is significantly higher than past estimates and is due to the stress of this brief exposure to low salinity surface water.

Keywords: damage; discards; fishery; Kattegat/Skagerrak; low salinity stress; mortality; Nephrops norvegicus

Journal Article.  7997 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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