Objective?… MCS’s turnaround on Scottish mackerel… (May 2013)

MARINE Conservation Society re-grades mackerel; Distinguishes EU/Norway vs. Iceland & Faroes

 

Article first posted 16.05.2013

The Scottish fishing industry and Government welcomed this morning [May 16, 2013] the Marine Conservation Society (MCS)’s decisions to re-grade European mackerel to a yellow “three” rating (i.e. ‘people can eat it occasionally without endangering the species’) while re-listing mackerel caught by Icelandic and Faroese trawlers with a ‘red four’ (“avoid”). Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead said: “I am pleased that the MCS has taken a more sensible approach to this issue by upgrading our sustainably caught mackerel. It is important that the grading is fair and recognises the difference between that which is sustainably caught and that which is not.

NB EdOn January 22, the MCS issued a downgrade: “After years of being a popular sustainable choice, mackerel should no longer be appearing so regularly on your dinner plate.” Uproar and intense lobbying ensued to make the MCS reconsider… The problem is that NE Atlantic mackerel’s climate change-induced shifts of migratory patterns know of ‘no frontiers’. Iceland’s Government said Tuesday that “30% of the mackerel stock was in Iceland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 2012. In addition, mackerel gain approximately 50% of their weight in Iceland’s territory”; yet Iceland is only ‘given’ ~5% of the international catch (TAC), whereas the EU & Norway have continued to allocate (themselves) ~90%. Agreement on the 4-year ‘mackerel war’ has to be reached legally/collegially by all Coastal States. Until then: each party will claim – arguably in good faith – that ‘others’ are acting “unilaterally” and “unsustainably”. An advisory made in isolation of those – political / climate change / international law – considerations is ignoring (somewhat condoning) a de facto situation where mackerel stocks are and will be overfished by up to 50% above ICES-recommended levels in 2013. It is also ‘taking a side’…

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Full statements (3) by the Scottish Gocernment, the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA), and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) are below…

 

“Scotland’s fishermen have stuck to the principles of an international agreement and fixed limits in tandem with Norway – Iceland and Faroe have refused to negotiate and set unilateral quotas.  So it is good news for our fishermen that MCS have taken this on board so our fishermen are not punished further because of the actions of others – the bottom line is that sustainably caught Scottish mackerel is good to eat.

“The mackerel stock is currently still healthy, although the science shows it is beginning to be affected by the overfishing of Iceland and Faroe.  So we all recognise that this situation cannot be allowed to continue – we need to find an agreement as soon as possible.”

 British Mackerel Back on the Fish to Eat List

 The Scottish Pelagic Processors Association (SPPA) welcomes today’s announcement that the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has upgraded British and European mackerel to a yellow “three” rating, meaning people can eat it occasionally without endangering the species.

The SPPA, which represents all major Scottish mackerel processors, has been campaigning for recognition of the sustainable fishing practices employed by European and Norwegian fleets since mackerel was downgraded in January this year.

Francis Clark, Board Member of the SPPA, said: “We welcome today’s decision by the MCS to reclassify mackerel caught by members of the European and Norwegian fleet in recognition of our commitment to work together to safeguard the long-term sustainability of the stock.

“We also applaud the MCS’s decision to classify mackerel caught by Icelandic and Faroese trawlers with a red four, which means people should avoid eating it.

“As part of MINSA (Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance) we are working with the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas and a number of scientific bodies to better understand stock levels. Last year all member countries agreed to reduce our quota by 15 per cent in line with advice..

“Eating oily fish has tremendous health benefits. Our aim is to make sure people across the UK have access to the most sustainable sources of mackerel available.

“As an industry body we also want to safeguard the livelihood of the mackerel fishing and processing industry in the UK. The species is worth £324 million to the economy and supports over 2,200 jobs.”

About the SPPA

The Scottish Pelagic Processors Association is a trade association which represents all the major Scottish Pelagic Processors and Secondary Processors.

The association has a close working relationship with UK Pelagic Fishermen.

Members of this trade association supply a wide range of Mackerel products, from smoked and canned fish to UK retailers, wholesalers and fishmongers, to block frozen bulk packs supplied via reefers to major export customers.

The Association was established in 1976 (under its former name as the Herring Buyers Association) following the set up of Producer Organisations, with the aim of supporting and representing buyers and processors of pelagic species.

The SPPA is a voluntary association, financed by an annual levy paid by its members.

About MINSA

A group of seven MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) approved fisheries, known as the Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance (MINSA), submitted an action plan aimed at solving the dispute in March 2012. This corrective plan has been accepted by MSC and applauded by both the MCS and Seafish.

 

Source: SSPA pr 16.05.2013 @ 00.01 GMT

 

 

Mackerel announcement by the Scottish Government

 

Commenting on the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) re-grading decisions, Scotland’s Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead said:

 

“I am pleased that the MCS has taken a more sensible approach to this issue by upgrading our sustainably caught mackerel.  It is important that the grading is fair and recognises the difference between that which is sustainably caught and that which is not.

 

“Scotland’s fishermen have stuck to the principles of an international agreement and fixed limits in tandem with Norway – Iceland and Faroe have refused to negotiate and set unilateral quotas.  So it is good news for our fishermen that MCS have taken this on board so our fishermen are not punished further because of the actions of others – the bottom line is that sustainably caught Scottish mackerel is good to eat.

 

“The mackerel stock is currently still healthy, although the science shows it is beginning to be affected by the overfishing of Iceland and Faroe.  So we all recognise that this situation cannot be allowed to continue – we need to find an agreement as soon as possible.”

Source: Scottish Government pr 16.05.2013 @ 00.01 GMT

 

Scottish fishermen welcome upgrade by Marine Conservation Society of mackerel ‘Fish to Eat’ listing

Commenting on the news that the Marine Conservation Society has moved to upgrade its ‘Fish to Eat’ rating for Scottish caught mackerel so as to differentiate it from mackerel caught by Iceland and the Faroes,   Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said:

“We are pleased that the Marine Conservation Society has made this important differentiation between Scottish caught mackerel compared with that from Iceland and the Faroes. This new assessment will enable consumers to make informed choices when purchasing mackerel.

“Scottish mackerel and herring fishermen are committed to sustainable catching as is highlighted by the fact that all our herring fisheries are Marine Stewardship Council certified. We also spearheaded the MSC certification of our north-east Atlantic mackerel fishery, which remains within the MSC programme but is currently suspended through no fault of our own because of the over-fishing of the stock by Iceland and the Faroes. In the meantime, we have put in place a corrective action plan that abides by a code of best practice developed by the Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance (MINSA) on behalf of the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group to ensure the sustainable catching of mackerel.”

Source: SFF pr 16.05.2013 @ 00.01 GMT

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