Norwegian fishers have voiced their concerns over the ICES advice regarding a cut in TAC for mackerel in 2022 saying bad weather is to blame
Norwegian fishers have voiced their concerns over the ICES advice regarding a cut in the TAC for mackerel in 2022.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) recommends a quota of 794,920 tonnes for 2022 which is a decrease of 7 percent compared to the quota council for 2021.
Earlier this year, Norway unilaterally set itself a quota of 298,299 tonnes for 2021 which would increase to over 305,000 tonnes with flex. The Norwegian pelagic fleet has fished around 232,000 tonnes of mackerel in 2021 with approximately 94,000 tonnes remaining to be caught.
Various associations have claimed that the ICES advice is not accurate and are blaming bad weather during the July research trip carried out by the Institute of Marine Research for poor results. Fishermen have claimed that storms and rough weather stir the water masses, and the plankton go deeper. The mackerel follows and becomes harder to catch, both for the researcher and for the fisherman.
But bad weather alone is not responsible for lower mackerel TAC says one fisheries expert
“It’s hard to do anything about the weather,” admits Leif Nøttestad, stock manager for mackerel at the Institute for Marine Research in Norway.
However, Nøttestad does not believe that a few days of bad sea weather have had a major impact on the bigger picture.
“The stock assessment shows a continuous decline since 2015, and this is the main reason for a lower quota council for 2022,” notes Nøttestad.
“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,” says Nøttestad.
Nøttestad does agree with fishers claim that the mackerel is moving further north and eggs finds on the research trip have indicated this.
Without an agreement in place from the Coastal States Council, the ICES has calculated that between Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Russia, the EU and the UK a parties set a total allowable catch of 1,199,103 tonnes in 2021, well above the recommended 852,284 advised by the ICES.