SPSG produces Fact Sheet on NE Atlantic mackerel

SPSG produces Fact Sheet on NE Atlantic mackerel

The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group (SPSG) has produced a Fact Sheet outlining the current UK position on the north-east Atlantic mackerel fishery and total allowable catches (TACs) and quota shares.

With the northern European coastal states of Iceland, the Faroes, Greenland, Russia and Norway having all set unilateral quotas outwith any international agreement, the current north-east Atlantic catch level is above the International Council Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advice.

“The behaviour of these northern states contrasts starkly with the UK who has maintained their traditional share of the catch within multilateral coastal states agreement and has not embarked upon any unilateral increases,” says Ian Gatt, chairman of SPSG.

Among the points highlighted in the SPSG ‘Mackerel Fact Sheet´ is that the Faroese have used 14% of their self-allocated mackerel quota to buy whitefish quota from Russia. In other words, their unilateral increase is being used to create ‘currency’ to buy other quota.

Other key points in the Fact Sheet include:

  • The UK has maintained its traditional share of the catch based on a long-standing historical participation in the fishery.
  • All mackerel caught is in the UK exclusive economic zone and not international waters.
  • The UK has not set a unilateral TAC for mackerel.
  • UK fishers are committed to conservation and sustainable catching, and are engaged in a range of scientific work, including self-sampling programmes under the auspices of science/ industry partnerships. The aim of these initiatives is to gain greater understanding of the North East Atlantic mackerel stock, which can be used in ICES stock assessments and TAC recommendations.

With regards to the current situation on total allowable catches and quota shares, SPSG is calling for:

  • A 10% cap on mackerel catches set in international waters.
  • Catching opportunity to be based on zonal attachment and the availability of mackerel stocks in each coastal state’s EEZ, and on longterm historical record, and set within ICES recommendations.
  • The cessation of the setting of unilateral quotas outwith international agreement.
  • A pledge from seafood suppliers that they will continue to source UK mackerel, given that the UK fishing fleet is catching mackerel responsibly and is committed to the sustainability of the fishery.

The Mackerel Fact Sheet can be viewed online at: www.spsg.co.uk