European Lobsters

The European Lobster Homarus gammarus also referred to as the “common lobster” is a species of clawed lobster with a distribution covering Northern Norway to North Africa (fig1).  This species posses high monetary value within inshore fisheries, being referred to as the “king of Crustacea” (1).  Orkney Landings of this species make up 4% of total shellfish landings, but are responsible for 19% of £7.7million in 2014 (2). Similarly national Scottish landings of this species only make up 2% of total crustacean landings but are responsible for 9% of total shellfish catch value of  £131.1 million for Scotland in 2014 (2)

European lobster typically inhabit rocky inshore substrates, with a high level of site fidelity observed. Alluding to the possibility of distinct populations within small geographic areas. Predominantly scavengers and hunting at night, their diet consist of small crustacea, molluscs and polychaetes, with this species also being highly cannibalistic of smaller individuals.

Lobster Distribution
Figure 1. Known Distribution of European lobsters Homarus gammarus (Red) and American Lobster Homarus americanus (Orange) (3)

Moulting occurs once a year within the summer months becoming less frequent in older individuals, with mating occurring soon after a female has moulted. Moulting and mating is heavily affected by seasonal variation in sea temperature, with moulting and mating changing  by +/- 1 month annually as a result. After mating eggs are extruded and carried for up to a year before the larvae hatch. The number of eggs produced is dependant on size of the lobster, with it ranging from  5,000 – 40,000 eggs (4).

After hatching larvae enter the pelagic stage of their life cycle for approximately 5 – 10 weeks and are at the mercy of ocean currents, feeding on phytoplankton and zooplankton within the water column. During this time they high susceptible to predation, with estimates of only 1 in 20,000 making it into the benthic phase of development (5).

For more information regarding life cycle of Lobster Larvae Visit the Lamb Holm Lobster Hatchery Page.

Current legislation surrounding Minimum Landing Sizes (MLS) of European lobsters is 87mm (32764in) for both males and females, with a maximum landing size of 156mm (6964in) for females inforced in Scotland (6).



(1) Herrick F.,H., (1985) Aquatic Living Resources, 6, 58-69.

(2) Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics 2014, Marine Scotland,




(6) Crustacean Minimum Landing Size legislation