Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

European Spiny Lobster Juveniles Reared in Laboratory Setting by Corsican and French Scientists

11th November 2023
A reared 11 months old juvenile European spiny lobster
A reared 11 months old juvenile European spiny lobster Credit: UAR 3514 STELLA MARE - Università di Corsica / CNRS

French and Corsican marine scientists have succeeded in rearing juveniles of the vulnerable European spiny lobster.

A team from the University of Corsica and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) has achieved what it terms a “scientific and technical feat”.

The team, with over ten years of experience in mastering the reproduction of vulnerable marine species, says it has reared an 11-month-old juvenile European spiny lobster, and they have reached the minimum release size required to initiate experiments in ecological restoration.

It says it is one of only two laboratories in the world to have mastered the reproduction of this species in such a setting – the other being RAS Aquaculture, run by Dr David Fletcher in Wales.

The spiny lobster, Palinurus elephas, can be found in the northeast Atlantic Ocean (from Norway to Mauritania), but especially in the Mediterranean.

Its southern distribution extends from North Africa to Morocco, the Canary Islands and the Azores.

Classified as a “ vulnerable species”, it is on the Red List of Threatened Species drawn up by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Its high selling price (50 to 100 € / kg) results from a relative scarcity, which has been confirmed by the continuous decline in catches recorded over fisheries of the European Union (from 1,100 tons in 1969 to 434 tons in 2017), the scientists say.

In France, on the Atlantic coast, fishing increased from 1000 tons a year in the 1950s to 25 tons. Catches also decreased dramatically off Corsica and Sardinia, where it accounted for a high proportion of local inshore fisheries.

The team says the objective of the study is “to use these individuals to restore depleted stocks”.

“For the Corsican fishing sector, lobster generates an annual income of more than 4 million euros. Lobster fishing alone accounts for up to 70% of the Corsican fisheries income,” the team says.

“This scientific advance could thus ensure the survival of Corsican artisanal fishing economy or even contribute to its development, while perpetuating a centuries-old heritage activity,” it says.

“This breakthrough is now paving the way for compensation methods for fishing activity to preserve the presence of the spiny lobster in its natural range,” it adds.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!