Norwegian mackerel fishing shetland

Despite poor weather inhering fishing, the Norwegian fleet landed the majority of their 12,200 tonnes of mackerel from waters off Shetland. Photo: Norges Sildesalgslag\Asle Birkeland (2022)

“The mackerel is still scattered both in the sea and along the coast,” reports Kenneth Garvik, Sales Manager with Norges Silgesalgslag.

Week 38 of 2023 sees the Norwegian mackerel fleet land over half their catch from the Shetland zone whilst bad weather hinders fishing opportunities.


It was a slow mackerel week with modest 12,200 tonnes recorded. The best catch day was Monday with 4,200 tonnes, while the weekend saw small quantities due to gales in the mackerel fields. 

The purse seine group contributed the most with 9,200 tonnes, and from the other groups, coastal fishing accounted for 2,200 tonnes, the SUK group for 500 tonnes, and the trawl group for 300 tonnes. 

The boats have been hunting mackerel in three different areas: in the Norwegian Sea for the majority of the fleet, in the UK zone for some, and along the coast for the smaller boats. 

Fishermen report little gathering of mackerel in the Norwegian Sea and along the coast. Southeast of Shetland, in British waters, there have been brief periods of aggregation, allowing for setting nets. From here, 6,900 tonnes of this week’s quota were caught. 

The sizes of mackerel also vary in different areas. In the Norwegian Sea, the average is around 450g, in the UK zone around 400g, and along the coast, mackerel are much smaller with average weights of around 250g. 

We now observe that autumn has arrived with low-pressure activity in the Northeast Atlantic. The bad weather that hindered fishing over the weekend will continue into the first part of the upcoming week. 


Fishing on “The Edge”: 

From five different boats that have fished on “The Edge” for meal/oil, we have 720 tonnes of saithe, 620 tonnes of North Sea herring, just under 500 tonnes of blue whiting, and 190 tonnes of horse mackerel. 


Foreign vessels: 

We have reported two good catches from foreign vessels. The Icelandic vessel Vilhelm Thorsteinsson has been fishing herring east of Iceland recently and had a catch of just under 1,700 tonnes. These are large herring with average weights in the range of 367-380g. 

The Danish trawler “Themis” caught 1,000 tonnes of sprat for meal/oil use. They have been fishing in the EU zone in traditional sprat fields. 


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