UK industry pushes back against Open Seas’ anti-scampi campaign

A scampi trawler in the U.K.

The production of breaded or battered langoustine tails, more commonly known as scampi, is facing an attack campaign from the Scottish charity Open Seas.

The nonprofit’s “Say No to Scampi” campaign, launched on 12 October, is urging supermarkets to discontinue stocking this consumer favorite and is encouraging customers to avoid purchasing scampi until its fishery comes under sustainable management.

Open Seas said trawling for langoustine (Nephrops norvegicus), which live in seabed burrows in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, causes serious harm to other marine life. The organization claims that for every kilogram of scampi caught by bottom trawling, at least another kilogram of marine life dies or becomes discarded waste.

Scotland is the world’s leading producer of creel-caught and bottom-trawled langoustine. According to the Scottish government, the country landed 18,000 metric tons (MT) of bottom-trawled langoustine in 2022 worth GBP 67 million (USD 81.4 million, EUR 77.4 million).

A fishery improvement project (FIP) is in place to address the bycatch issue, but Open Seas claims that progress in making effective change has been too slow. To address the issue, Open Seas is demanding that bottom-trawl vessels avoid fishing in coastal fish nurseries and spawning areas, that all fishing boats install electronic monitoring to ensure the recording of bycatch is accurate, and that they work to decrease their bycatch as much as possible.

“This bite-size food comes with a big environmental price tag for our seas. The mesh of the bottom-trawl nets used are particularly narrow, which means that large volumes of other sea life are caught, killed, and wasted,” Open Seas Communication and Campaigns Head Nick Underdown told SeafoodSource. “We think customers will want to know the hidden and unsustainable cost of scampi and take action. For years now, our supermarkets have been pretending to fix the chronic bycatch problem associated with scampi, but this has not made any practical difference.”

The Scottish fishing industry refuted ... 

Photo courtesy of Open Seas

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