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Lobsters and crayfish

Lobsters live in saltwater whilst crayfish live in freshwater habitats. Lobsters and crayfish are most often caught using pots or traps. Most lobsters are equipped with ten legs and two scissors as front legs. With these scissors, they are able to grab, cut or crack their food. Did you know lobsters and crayfish, just lie snakes, change their skin because their shell does not grow with their bodies? After changing their shell the animal grows fast and increases in weight.

There are many different lobster species. Most common are the American lobster in the north-western Atlantic ocean, and the European lobster in the north-eastern Atlantic ocean. Lobsters have a relatively slow growth rate and reach sexual maturity at a late age. Another frequently consumed lobster is the Norway lobster. This species is way smaller than the American and European lobster. This species occurs in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean and parts of the Mediterranean sea.




The European lobster can be found along the north-eastern Atlantic coast and in the Mediterranean Sea. These scavengers can reach sizes up to 60 cm and weigh up to 6 kg. The lobsters make their homes in holes between rocks on rocky ocean floors. The European lobster is quite similar to the American lobster but can be distinguished by the spines on their claws. While the European lobster has white spines on its claws, the American lobster has red spines on its claws.


Homarus gammarus

Atlantic Ocean, northeast (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Pots and traps

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

The most important fishing grounds of lobster are heavily exploited. The lobster stock is considered to be overfishedOverfished:
A stock is overfished when the stock size has decreased so far that it can no longer produce a maximum sustainable yield. The size of the fish populations is insufficient to reproduce in the long term. 
, without signs of recovery. Lobsters are vulnerable to fishing pressureFishing pressure:
Fishing pressure is a result of the fishing effort/amount of fishing on a stock, which determines the fishing mortality. Fishing mortality is the share of the fish stock that dies annually as a result of fishing.
, as they have a slow growth rate and only reach sexual maturity in a later stage of life.

Lobsters are mainly caught with cagesCages:
A cultivation technique with open cages in the sea, lake or river. They are anchored to the bottom and are standing in places sheltered for storm and high waves. Most salmon is grown in this type of culture system. Because the cages are in open connection with the surrounding water, the impact on the environment is high.
. This fishing method is selective and causes little damage to the environment.

Some management strategies have been put in place, like the releasing of female lobsters carrying eggs. However, the effect of these measures are unknown, as there is no evidence that the stock is recovering.

Fish in season 

Fish is in season when the spawning period has ended, as the quality is then at its best.



ASC label

Fish with the ASC label is farmed in a sustainable manner.

MSC label

Fish with the MSC label is caught sustainably.

Good fish

This fish is not being overfished or is being responsibly farmed, with minimal impact on the environment.

Second choice

This fish is a second choice. There are still some improvements to be made in this fishery or fish farm.


Do not buy this fish. It's being overfished or the way it's farmed or caught has a negative impact on the environment.


There is fish available of this species that is farmed or caught using high welfare standards.


GlobalG.A.P. certified farms are doing a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. A few species with this label are getting a better score on the VISwijzer.


Organic standards are the strictest when it comes to fish feed. They also require certain measures for animal well-being.