Profile updated on 7 February 2019

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Scomber scombrus

SPECIES NAME(s)

Atlantic mackerel

Northeast Atlantic mackerel defines the mackerel in the region from ICES Division 9a in the south to Division 2a in the north. Spawning areas are equally widely distributed but catches are attributed to three spawning components by area – North Sea (4, 3a), Western (6, 7, 8a,b,d,e) and Southern (8c, 9a). Fish from Southern and Western areas have been shown to migrate to the North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea after spawning where they become indistinct from other components. For practical purposes all mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic are considered to form a single stock (ICES, 2012a,b).


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • The management agreement, though lacking in its implementation, is precautionary.
Weaknesses
  • No international agreement exists between all states participating in the fishery and advised catches are routinely exceeded.
  • Fishing mortality in the entire area remains above FMSY.
  • The North Sea spawning biomass remains low.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

≥ 6

Managers Compliance:

0

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

7.3

Future Health:

4.8


RECOMMENDATIONS

RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN
  • Coastal States (EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands) should welcome and expand the Coastal States Agreement (CSA) to include additional third party countries (e.g. Iceland, Russia and Greenland) participating in the fishery. This should also include a post-Brexit UK element as appropriate.
  • An expanded CSA should be a legally binding international agreement between all relevant coastal / fishing states that formally requires total landings from the fishery to be at or below the precautionary TAC advised by ICES.

FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
NE Atlantic EU Denmark Midwater trawls
Purse seines
France Midwater trawls
Purse seines
Germany Midwater trawls
Ireland Midwater trawls
Lithuania Midwater trawls
Netherlands Midwater trawls
Poland Cast nets
Portugal Midwater trawls
Spain Midwater trawls
Pole-lines hand operated
Purse seines
Sweden Mechanized lines
Midwater trawls
Purse seines
United Kingdom Drift gillnets
Hooks and lines
Mechanized lines
Midwater trawls
Pole-lines hand operated
Faroe Islands Faroe Islands Midwater trawls
Seine nets
Iceland Iceland Midwater trawls
Norway Norway Midwater trawls
Pole-lines hand operated
Purse seines

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 7 February 2019

Strengths
  • The management agreement, though lacking in its implementation, is precautionary.
Weaknesses
  • No international agreement exists between all states participating in the fishery and advised catches are routinely exceeded.
  • Fishing mortality in the entire area remains above FMSY.
  • The North Sea spawning biomass remains low.
RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 6 March 2019

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • Coastal States (EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands) should welcome and expand the Coastal States Agreement (CSA) to include additional third party countries (e.g. Iceland, Russia and Greenland) participating in the fishery. This should also include a post-Brexit UK element as appropriate.
  • An expanded CSA should be a legally binding international agreement between all relevant coastal / fishing states that formally requires total landings from the fishery to be at or below the precautionary TAC advised by ICES.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 7 February 2019

An age-based analytical model (SAM) is used in the assessment, based on catch and tagging data and three survey indices. Partial discarding estimates are included in the assessment but recent discarding is not thought to be significant (ICES 2018).

Some conflicting signals are apparent in the data sources used and some of the time series are still short. Abundance of younger year classes is estimated with some uncertainty but does not have much of an impact on catch advice (ICES 2018).

A benchmark assessment was conducted in 2017 (ICES 2018).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 7 February 2019

ICES advises that catches in 2019 should not exceed 318,403 metric tons, under an approach aimed at fishing in the long term at maximum sustainable yield (MSY). This represents a significant reduction to 2018's advised 550,948 metric tons, due to both a declining stock and a downwards revision of the previous assessed stock size, along with high current fishing mortality and low recruitment (ICES 2018)

One of the three spawning components, that in the North Sea is still of a reduced size due to earlier overexploitation, and ICES continues to recommend protection measures including closed areas and seasons and a minimum size (ICES 2018).

 


 

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 7 February 2019

Assessment results indicate that the stock has decreased to below its MSY Btrigger point in 2018, for the first time since 2007. Fishing mortality is almost twice FMSY, and has been above this newly calculated reference point since 1989. In addition, it is currently on an increasing trend, and catches have been increasing since the mid-2000s, and considered to be considerably underreported prior to 2000. Recruitment was strong from the early 2000s but the 2015 and 2016 classes appear to be small, contributing to the reduction in stock size.

However, fishers have reported increases in mackerel numbers in recent years (ICES 2018), a contradiction that has also occurred in past seasons. 

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 7 February 2019

TACs were previously agreed amongst all fishing parties, but since 2008 no agreement has been reached on setting TACs, and quotas have been set unilaterally. In 2014 three of the Coastal States (Norway, the EU and the Faroe Islands) reached an agreement, that was later extended to 2020, including a harvest control rule that uses MSY reference points and linearly reduces the TAC when the stock is below its MSY trigger reference point (Anon 2018). ICES found the strategy to be precautionary in the long term (ICES 2017) but in 2019 the plan was not followed by its signatory countries, who set a TAC constrained by a maximum 20% reduction, even though as the stock is now below its MSY trigger point, the TAC constraint does not apply under the plan. 

Summed quotas set by all fishing parties have continuously exceeded advised catch levels (ICES 2018)

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 7 February 2019

Total mackerel catches are estimated by ICES and include discards where available, but are considered to be underestimated due to discards, slippage and under-reporting, although discarding and slipping is thought to have decreased (ICES 2018).

With the exception of 1994 and since 2009, total catches have surpassed Set TACs. From 2009, catches have been close to the sum of the quotas set for the entire area, but considerably exceeded ICES’ advice, and have been increasing since 2006. Fishing mortality was also above that foreseen in the management plan, when this was in force. According to ICES, the lack of international agreements on the exploitation of the stock since 2008 is of critical concern, and hinders control of the total exploitation rates.

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 28 October 2009

A wide variety of marine mammals, including several species of whales considered by the IUCN to be endangered, and hooded seals, classified as vulnerable (IUCN, 2009), overlap with mackerel’s distribution in the North-east Atlantic. Limited information is available on bycatch of marine mammals by the fishery but it has been documented in mackerel trawling off southwest Ireland (ICES, 2008c), although, apart from long-finned pilot whale whose status is unknown, it mostly affects non-endangered mammals (IUCN, 2009). Mackerel is an important food source for various marine mammals (ICES, 2008a), but no information could be obtained on the indirect effects of removal of a preferred prey species.

Nesting or overwintering seabirds may also be affected by the fishery on several levels: bycatch of seabirds may occur, though most often documented for longline fishing, and discarding in the fishery can have a considerable impact on the distribution of scavenging seabirds (ICES, 2008c) but no specific information is available on the effects of the mackerel fishery on seabirds in the region.

Many elasmobranchs in the region which also increasingly vulnerable and marine turtles reported towards the south of mackerel’s range (ICES, 2008c) could be at risk of bycatch but no reports are available.

Other Species

Last updated on 9 December 2011

Overall, the bycatch of non-target species in the mackerel fishery is considered minimal (ICES, 2011a). There is some overlap with the Norwegian Spring-Spawning (NSS), in the northern extent of the Atlantic mackerel range, creating some bycatch issues for the vessels targeting mackerel in this area (ICES, 2009b; ICES, 2011b).

HABITAT

Last updated on 8 November 2012

The distribution of mackerel spawning areas has changed in recent years and mackerel is being fished in areas where it was not previously found (ICES, 2009b). A westerly shift in the distribution of the mackerel stock is suggested by survey data in 2009 (ICES, 2009b). Consequences of this change can be expected to be substantial and to impact on the future abundance, spawning, growth and recruitment of the stock (ICES, 2008a). High ocean temperatures appear to be influencing mackerel distribution and migration patterns, partly due to high zooplankton concentrations in the western Norwegian Sea (ICES, 2009b). Earlier spawning in the south and earlier migration to northern waters also appear to be a result of the warmer seas and are supported by changes in the timing of the southern fisheries (ICES, 2008a). An increase in the variability of recruitment has also become apparent in recent years (ICES, 2008b).

Most fleets target mackerel with pelagic gear, where direct effects on the ecosystem are not thought to be significant, but demersal trawls are used by Spanish fleets and are known to damage benthic communities besides having a larger rate of discarding (ICES, 2008c).

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 08 Nov 2012

The south-west mackerel box, an area off the coast of Cornwall in Southern England, was set up in 1981 in order to protect juvenile mackerel in a known nursery area, at a time when fishing effort was particularly high and discarding of small mackerel a major issue. The area was further expanded in 1989 and is closed to mackerel fishing with the exception of handliners. The fishery is also closed in Divisions IIIa and IVb,c on a permanent basis in order to protect the North Sea component and Western juveniles and in Division IVa during the first half of the year (ICES, 2012a).

In addition, in EU waters, the extension to marine areas of the EU Natura 2000 network of special conservation areas, under the Birds Directive 79/409/EEC and the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC is currently underway and special fishery management measures may be applied.

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 7 February 2019

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2019 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

A management strategy is in place, agreed by three of the Coastal States, but no plan has been agreed upon by all parties, and the paln was not followed by its signatory parties in 2019.

As calculated for 2018 data.

The score is 0.0.

This measures the Set TAC as a percentage of the Advised TAC.

The Set TAC is 1010 ('000 t). The Advised TAC is 551 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TAC/Advised TAC for this index is 183%.

As calculated for 2017 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Estimated catch as a percentage of the Set TAC.

The Estimated catch is 1160 ('000 t). The Set TAC is 1190 ('000 t) .

The underlying Estimated catch/Set TAC for this index is 96.8%.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2018 data.

The score is 7.3.

This measures the SSB as a percentage of the MSY Btrigger.

The SSB is 2350 ('000 t). The MSY Btrigger is 2570 ('000 t) .

The underlying SSB/MSY Btrigger for this index is 91.6%.

As calculated for 2017 data.

The score is 4.8.

This measures the F as a percentage of the Fmsy.

The F is 0.380 (age-averaged). The Fmsy is 0.210 .

The underlying F/Fmsy for this index is 181%.

To see data for biomass, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for fishing mortality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for stock status, please view this site on a desktop.
DATA NOTES
  1. For scores calculation purposes, the advised TACs graphed from 2005 to 2015 correspond to the averages of the advised ranges under the previous management plan. From 2016 it corresponds to an MSY approach in the absence of a management plan. A management plan has been evaluated and determined to be precautionary but has not been agreed upon by all fishing countries and was not used in 2019 by its signatory countries.
  2. Since no international agreement has been reached on the TACs since 2009, graphed values are the sum of unilateral TACs.
  3. Catch data is ICES's estimate, including discards, slippage and underreporting but which are thought to be underestimated.

Download Source Data

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

Credits
  1. Det Norske Veritas (DNV), Intertek Moody Marine (IMM), Food Certification International Ltd (FCI), 2012. North East Atlantic Mackerel Fisheries. MSC Certification - Confirmation of Suspension.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/certified/north-east-atlantic/sppo-north-east-atlantic-mackerel/assessment-downloads-1/20120328_ANMT_Suspension.pdf
  2. EC, 2011. Council Regulation (EC) No 57/2011 of 18 January 2011, fixing for 2011 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in EU waters and, for EU vessels, in certain non-EU waters.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:024:0001:0125:EN:PDF
  3. Faroese Ministry of Fisheries, 2011. Faroese Mackerel Fisheries in 2011. Press release, 16-03-2011.http://www.us.fo/Default.aspx?ID=2396&M=News&PID=6412&NewsID=3552
  4. FikiStofa, accessed 15July2016. Mackerel catches and allowed catch. http://www.fiskistofa.is/english/quotas-and-catches/mackerel-fisheries/aflastada_makrill.jsp?lang=en
  5. ICES, 2008a. Report of the Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE), 2-11 September 2008, ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen (ICES CM 2008\ACOM:13). http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2008/WGWIDE/WGWIDE08.pdf
  6. ICES, 2008b. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fishery Management, Advisory Committee on the Marine Environment and Advisory Committee on Ecosystems, Book 9: Widely distributed and Migratory Stocks. 9.4.2 Northeast Atlantic mackerel (combined Southern, Western, and North Sea spawning components).http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2008/2008/mac-nea.pdf
  7. ICES, 2008c. Report of the Working Group for Regional Ecosystem Description (WGRED), 25-29 February 2008, ICES, Copenhagen, Denmark (ICES CM 2008/ACOM:47). http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2008/WGRED/wgred_2008.pdf
  8. ICES, 2009a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee. Book 9: Widely distributed and Migratory Stocks. 9.4.2 Mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic (combined Southern, Western, and North Sea spawning components).http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2009/2009/mac-nea.pdf
  9. ICES, 2009b. Report of the Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE), 2-8 September 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark (ICES CM 2009/ACOM:12).http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2009/WGWIDE/WGWIDE09.pdf
  10. ICES, 2010a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee. Book 9: Widely Distributed and Migratory Stocks. 9.4.2. Mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic (combined Southern, Western, and North Sea spawning components).http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2010/2010/mac-nea.pdf
  11. ICES, 2010b. Report of the Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE), 28 August - 3 September 2010, Vigo, Spain (ICES CM 2010/ACOM:15). 612 pp.http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2010/WGWIDE/WGWIDE%202010.pdf
  12. ICES, 2011a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee. Book 9: Widely Distributed and Migratory Stocks. 9.4.2. Mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic (combined Southern, Western, and North Sea spawning components).http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2011/2011/mac-nea.pdf
  13. ICES, 2011b. Report of the Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE), 23 - 29 August 2011, ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen, Denmark (ICES CM 2011/ACOM:15). 642 pp.http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2011/WGWIDE/WGWIDE%20Report%202011.pdf
  14. ICES, 2012a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 9: Widely Distributed and Migratory Stocks 9.4.2 Ecoregion: Widely Distributed and Migratory Stocks. Stock: Mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic (combined Southern, Western, and North Sea spawning components). Advice summary for 2012, 23 pp. http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2011/2011/mac-nea.pdf
  15. ICES, 2012b. Report of the Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE), 21 - 27 August 2012, Lowestoft, United Kingdom. ICES CM 2012/ACOM:15. 931pp.WGWIDE_2012.pdf
  16. ICES, 2014. Report of the Working Group on Mixed Fisheries Advice for the North Sea (WGMIXFISH-NS), 26-30 May 2014, ICES HQ, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2014/ACOM:22. 95 pp.http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2014/WGMIXFISH-NS/01%20WGMIXFISH-NS%20report%202014.pdf
  17. ICES, 2015. Report of the ICES Committee 2015. Book 9, 9.3.25: Mackerel (Scomber scombus) in Subareas I-VII and XIV and Divisions VIIIa-e and IXa (Northeast Atlantic). http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/mac-nea.pdf
  18. IUCN, 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. [Downloaded on 24 October 2009].http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  19. MSC, 2014. North East Atlantic Mackerel Fisheries – Acceptance of Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance (MINSA) Corrective Action Plan.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/north-east-atlantic/DPPO-NE-Atlantic-mackerel/assessment-downloads-1/20140117_Corrective_Action_Plan_Acceptance_letter_MAC33.pdf
  20. NEAFC, 2015. Agreed Record of Conclusions of Fisheries Consultations between the Faroe Islands, the European Union and Norway on the Management of Mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic for 2016. Clonakilty, 23 October 2015. http://cdn.lms.fo/media/7038/agreed-record-mackerel.pdf
  21. OSPAR, 2010. 2009/10 Status Report on the OSPAR Network of Marine Protected Areas. Publ. no. 493/2010. OSPAR Commission: Biodiversity Series. 61 pp.http://www.ospar.org/documents/dbase/publications/p00493_Status%20report%20MPAs.pdf
References

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