ICES releases advice on the fishing of Atlantic Mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic and adjacent waters for 2022

ICES releases advice on the fishing of Atlantic Mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic and adjacent waters for 2022

The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) has released its advice on the fishing of Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) in the Northeast Atlantic and adjacent waters for 2022.

On mackerel the ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2022 should be no more than 794,920 tonnes.

This is a decrease/increase of 7% on the recommended total allowable catch (TAC) of 852,284 tonnes for 2021 and is set against a controversial year, which saw several coastal states unilaterally set their own quotas after the collapse of the Annual Coastal States negotiations after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

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Controversially, the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry has today set a national mackerel quota of 298,299 tonnes for 2021. Norway claimed that it had set its own mackerel quota due to the lack of a coastal state agreement for mackerel. The 298,299 tonnes would increase to over 305,000 tonnes with carry overs.

Iceland and the Faroe Islands also came under severe critism for unilaterally getting their own TACs for mackerel

Iceland set a TAC at almost 141,000 tonnes (16.50% share of the total ICES advice), and the Faroe Islands at just over 167,000 tonnes, an increase on the 12.6% share of the TAC that the Faroe Islands had under the coastal states agreement. 

Of the remaning coast states, Russia took a mackerel quota of just over 120,000 tonnes, Britain 222,000 tonnes, the European Union 100,000 tonnes and Greenland 60,000 tonnes

The combined mackerel quotas exceeded 941,500 tonnes, or almost 100,000 tonnes in excess of the ICES advice.

Next will be the Northeast Atlantic Coastal States negotiations where Ireland will find out if there will be any change to the 60,849 tonnes allocated in 2021.

Read the full advice by clicking here:

Advice Keypoints

The stock assessment shows a continuous decline since 2015, and this is the main reason for a lower quota council for 2022.

The stock assessment of mackerel has been under constant revision with partly divergent signals from various data, but now all the data point to a declining stock.

Although mackerel has had good recruitment in recent years, the catch of mackerel has been well above the recommended quota council since 2010. In 2021, the catch is estimated to be about 40 percent above the quota council, and it is also a contributing factor to the decline in the stock.

Fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY, Fpa, and Flim and spawning-stock size is above MSY Btrigger, Bpa, and Blim.

Issues relevant for the advice

ICES currently considers the NEA mackerel stock to consist of three spawning components: the western, southern, and North Sea (ICES, 2016), although the stock structure and spawning behaviour is likely to be more dynamic (Jansen and Gislason, 2013). The existing management measures to ensure the protection of the North Sea component (i.e. no mackerel fishing in divisions 3.a and 4.b–c, except for Norway, where a limited amount of the TAC can be fished in Division 3.a; no mackerel fishing in Division 4.a during the period 15 February–31 July; and a 30 cm minimum conservation reference size) should remain in place for precautionary reasons. However, given the new knowledge on stock structure of mackerel that is currently becoming available, a review of the appropriateness of the use of stock components and the associated protection measures should be carried out.

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