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Commercial Fishing



NE Atlantic mackerel quota cut by 20%. The EU, Norway and the Faroes have agreed a mackerel Total Allowable Catch for 2019 which is 20% lower than this year’s quota.

However, this is much less of a cut than advised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), who recommended the quota to be 42% lower than the advised catch for 2018.

However, there were doubts in the scientific processes used in assessment of the stock, which has no doubt led to the mitigation of the original advised cut in quota

This year in particular, there were significant concerns regarding how the assessment model uses data from tagged mackerel, which is leading to lower estimates of stock abundance due to an apparent low survival rate of the tagged mackerel.

Another important uncertainty, which affects predictions of future stock size and catch, is that estimates for the number of young fish due to enter the fishery (recruitment) has not been quantified for 2016 and 2017 due to the data being unavailable at the time of the assessment.

Speaking last month, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said: ““There is considerable uncertainty over the accuracy of this year’s scientific assessment due to a number of factors, including concerns over how the assessment model uses data from tagged mackerel, which has pulled down the calculated Spawning Stock Biomass figure. Tagged mackerel data has only been used in the assessment process in recent times, and because its data shows a much higher biomass reduction, it is at odds from other data in the scientific process and throws doubt on the overall stock assessment. The ICES perception of the stock is also contrary to that witnessed by fishermen on the fishing grounds

“The assessment is also using updated egg survey information from two years ago, and with new egg survey data available next year, we are hopeful this will ensure a more accurate assessment of the stock. Mackerel scientists will also be forming a working group in the early part of next year to look at the issues with the tagging information and how the data is processed by the assessment model.

“As a responsible industry, we are committed to ensuring a sustainable fishery, and we will be working with our partners in the EU, Norway and Faroes on how we can all work closely together to aid this process of ensuring the best possible science when assessing the stock. We are also committed to working with Coastal States fisheries managers to find an acceptable solution to managing the 2019 fishery.”