Next year's North East Atlantic mackerel quota should be cut from last year's catch of 725,000 tonnes to 542,000 tonnes, the Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (ACFM) claims. Mackerel stocks are not threatened, but the taxation level is too high, it adds.
The ACFM is responsible on behalf of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for providing scientific information and advice on living resources and their harvesting in the North East Atlantic and North Sea. NE Atlantic mackerel is managed as one stock, but consists of three spawning components, a western, a southern and one in the North Sea.
The mackerel spawning stock is seen to be in good shape and calculated to be three million tonnes this year. Earlier reports set the spawning stock at 3.5 million tonnes, but the ACFM has reduced this figure. Mackerel stocks are inside safe biological limits, but the taxation level is seen as being higher than the precautionary limit. ICES recommends that next year's mackerel total allowable catch (TAC) be set to a maximum of 542,000 tonnes.
Norwegian industry sources are slightly dismayed at the proposed reduction, as mackerel is a vital source of income for Norwegian fishermen and the land-based industry. A 25 per cent reduction, which could be the result if the ICES recommendation is followed up, would represent a 45,000-tonne reduction from this year's approximate 180,000-tonne quota.
By Odin Hjellestad