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Could mackerel stocks also be in danger, just as herring stocks are said to be? Scientists warn against overfishing of the North Sea mackerel resource.

The mackerel dispute between the EU and Iceland/Faroe Islands has come to an apparent impasse. Iceland has reduced its self-imposed quota by 15%, but the EU is not satisfied. Meanwhile, scientists are warning that the North Sea mackerel stocks may be in danger of becoming overfished.

The British Marine Conservation Society (MCS) goes so far as to say that we should no longer be eating mackerel. They are of the opinion that the present mackerel fishery is not sustainable. Instead of eating mackerel, herring and sardines should be eaten, according to MCS.

To some extent, scientists are supporting MCS. Norwegian oceanographers are admitting that too much mackerel has been harvested since 2009, basically because the countries involved have failed to agree on responsible quotas. The mackerel has also changed its migration pattern slightly over the past few years. First it entered Iceland waters, and last year Greenland. This caused Iceland to claim a larger share of the total quota and acted accordingly, which forms the basis for the present dispute between Iceland and the Faroes on the one hand and EU and Norway on the other.

It is no secret that there is a huge over-capacity in the Norwegian pelagic fleet, and this may be an underlying reason for high quotas. For example, in 2011 scientists recommended a total quota of 672 000 tonnes, but 940 000 tonnes were landed (+40%). Recognizing this, the Norwegian authorities have reduced the quotas for 2013 by between 15% (for mackerel) and 46% (for capelin).

The blue whiting season in the North Sea and North Atlantic is doing well. Good catches are reported, and most of the landed volume goes for fishmeal and fish oil production. In Norway, 31 000 tonnes of blue whiting were landed during the last week of February, and as much as 28 200 tonnes went for reduction. Total landings so far this year amounted to about 41 300 tonnes by the end of February.

Mackerel

In February, Iceland announced that it had cut its mackerel quota by 15%, to 123 182 tonnes. According to the Icelandic Ministry of Industry and Innovation, this cut was in line with ICES’s recommendation. However this action did not satisfy the EU. According to the EU (and Norway), Iceland has set its own mackerel quota unilaterally yet again, and this is an irresponsible act, according to the EU. The Icelandic quota equals about 90% of the total maximum catches recommended by ICES.

Demand for mackerel was low in December 2012, but since then it has picked up. Apparently, some buyers were waiting for even lower prices, but this has not happened. Since December, prices have increased. Norwegian export prices (FOB Norway) for frozen mackerel over 600 gr went from NOK 18.78 per kg in December 2012 to NOK 28.72 per kg in February.


Small Pelagic Fish Utilization: Research Needs (World Bank Technical Paper)
Book (World Bank)

Actually your notions about frozen fish may be

2008-07-14 15:57:30 by part_of_the_problem

While *truly* fresh fish is superior to frozen for texture in many cases, what passes as "fresh" is often not really that fresh.
If you ever had the kinds of pelagic fish you describe within 30-60 minutes of being caught, you would be amazed at how un-fishy they are, especially tuna.
When fish is fileted and flash frozen at sea in that same time frame, it will most likely have less of a fishy flavor than the same fish that stays unfrozen for even a few hours trip to market, which is enough time to develop a fishy enough taste to put off someone who is sensitive to it.


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