An increase in mackerel stocks is so no green light for increasing fishing pressure

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 7 October 2013

An increase in mackerel stocks is so no green light for increasing fishing pressure No new assessment on mackerel stocks will be made available until next year despite a report suggesting that numbers of the iconic fish have been increasing in recent years.

An increase in mackerel stocks is so no green light for increasing fishing pressure No new assessment on mackerel stocks will be made available until next year despite a report suggesting that numbers of the iconic fish have been increasing in recent years. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the independent assessment body, have thrown-out their traditional data methodology for the fishery because growing uncertainty in catch data before 2005 has greatly altered their perception of the stock. MCS says it’s good news that stocks are increasing, but urges all parties to keep fishing pressure at or below their current recommended state until a more robust assessment is made available: our message is - this is not a é’green light’ to increase fishing levels. The unexpected move by ICES to delay formal analytical assessment of one of the most important fisheries in Europe demonstrates the importance of having reliable catch data. Fisheries scientists have an enormous task in providing estimates of stock size, particularly for widely distributed fish like mackerel, yet their estimates will only ever be as good as the data that is made available to them. “We will be asking for further clarification of the latest advice from ICES and will also seek comment from stakeholders when we review our ratings for the fishery. Any changes to MCS ratings, if warranted, will be available in February next year in our updated in Fishonline and the Good Fish Guide.” Jim Masters, MCS Aquaculture and Fisheries Manager. Recent catches and preliminary findings from egg surveys show an increasing trend in stock size (by up to 1.7 times); and ICES suggest that the stock has both expanded and moved further north and west into regions where previously no data existed. There may be a wide range of environmental conditions that have lead to these changes, but whatever the reasons, they are likely to be dynamic, resulting in continuous fluctuations in stock size. Despite the recent apparent increase in the stock, this dynamic nature of the fishery highlights the importance to reach international agreement on respective quota allocations amongst the participating nations that target this stock. MCS belieives the only good news will be when we have a long-term agreement - based on science - that all nations adhere to. We will be asking for further clarification of the latest advice from ICES and will also seek comment from stakeholders when we review our ratings for the fishery. Any changes to MCS ratings, if warranted, will be available in February next year in our updated in Fishonline and the Good Fish Guide.

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