Where are lobsters caught?

Largest native cancer: the European lobster

Lobsters live individually between rocks and rubble up to a depth of 60 meters. They are over 60 years old and up to 60 centimeters tall. Like all crabs, the lobster must shed its shell in order to grow. The new skin is initially soft as butter and offers little protection against predators.

At the age of four to six, females look for a male for the first time before their molt at the end of summer. The female attaches up to 26,000 eggs to her swimming legs under her tail. After nine to eleven months, small larvae hatch and drift around as plankton for a few days to weeks. Then there is a metamorphosis to the adult lobster and the little crabs move on to soil life. At night they walk around on their striding legs looking for fish, crabs, clams or carrion - they eat a bit of everything. The food gives the lobster its beautiful color.

The distribution area of ​​Homarus gammarus extends from northern Norway into the western Baltic Sea, across Great Britain along the Mediterranean coasts to the south down to the ancient coast of Morocco. This delicate cancer also lives in the German Bight. Here it is rare and endangered. Individual animals inhabit the few small scree fields. Above all, however, the Heligoland rock base offers them a suitable biotope on the otherwise sandy seabed. The only permanent small population exists there.

A delicacy that has become rare

In the 1930s, the Heligoland fishermen were able to catch 40 tons of lobsters (over 80,000 animals) per year with their lobster baskets. In the 1960s, the stock almost collapsed. Bombing of the island, increased fishing pressure after the war and high pollution of the North Sea with petroleum hydrocarbons and other chemicals destroyed the habitat and were probably responsible for the decline.

Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) on Heligoland are studying the lobster population with the help of fishermen. Thousands of annual lobsters were bred and released every year for ten years. It has been shown that such restocking measures are suitable to support the natural stocks. A few hundred lobsters are caught on Heligoland each year and sold there. Protective measures enable sustainable fishing. While 3,400 tons of domestic lobsters are landed annually across Europe, fishermen in North America on the North Atlantic coast catch 80,000 tons of the related American lobster (Hommarus americanus) every year. Most of the American style is sold in the refrigerated counters of our shops and restaurants. A small proportion comes from Europe, there are no German lobsters there.

To the overview of the marine protection key species