MCS downgrade: “Mackerel should no longer be appearing so regularly on your dinner plate” (Jan. 2013)

First published 23.01.2013

After years of being a popular sustainable choice, mackerel should no longer be appearing so regularly on your dinner plate.” This is the advice given Tuesday (January 22) by the UK’s influential Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

The MCS however adds that mackerel caught locally using traditional methods (eg. handlines) should not be excluded. “I hope the market will differentiate between mackerel caught by responsible Scottish vessels and that caught by irresponsible fleets who over fish the stock,” reacted the Scottish Minister, Richard Lochhead.

Editorial comment:

This is a momentous and long-overdue seafood advisory which highlights the first of many challenges-to-come for fishermen, regulators and politicians; as climate change is shifting international fish stocks’ migratory patterns and which will in the future require renegotiation of other international agreements.

The reality of the ‘mackerel war’ 4-year deadlock is that – whilst the EU and Norway have indeed last week agreed to cut their own quotas by 15% as recommended by the ICES – they have decided – in absentia of Iceland and the Faroese – to maintain their share (90.38%) of the NE Atlantic mackerel Total Allowable Catch (TAC).

What will thus likely happen in 2013, is the continuation of the current unsustainable mackerel overfishing (~50%). The resolution to this dispute is only via political/diplomatic negotiation. How this is actually achieved is open to much conjecture as the wider picture needs consideration (eg. Iceland’s accession to the EU, geopolitics & access to the Arctic…).

Meanwhile and de facto all the large commercial mackerel fisheries are operating unsustainably in view of the current state of the global stock they depend upon: a reality which the EU public needs to understand; communication of which may help bring politicians to their senses, and responsibilities…

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