Northeast Atlantic Mackerel, Purse seine

Scomber scombrus
Content last updated
14 July 2021
Stock
Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) in sub areas 1–7 and 14, and in divisions 8.a–e and 9.a (Northeast Atlantic)
Management
North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), Coastal States, EU-UK. Also Iceland, Greenland and Norway.
Stock Status
2 of 5
Low risk
Management
3 of 5
Moderate risk
Bycatch
3 of 5
Moderate risk
Habitat
1 of 5
Very low risk

Stock status

2 of 5
Low risk

Northeast Atlantic mackerel has been scored a low risk. This is because both spawning stock biomass and fishing mortality are assessed as at safe levels and the fishing mortality is assessed as below that associated with maximum sustainable yield.

ICES scientists continue to build an understanding of the evolution of this stock. However, there remains some uncertainty in the assessment. For details, follow the ICES assessment mac.27.nea link (link opens as a pdf).

Management

3 of 5
Moderate risk

The management of Northeast Atlantic mackerel has been scored a moderate risk. ICES Scientific advice uses an analytical assessment to advise on a long-term management strategy, which is agreed by some, but not all, of the parties exploiting the stock.

Not all the catches from this stock are managed under the Coastal States’ international management arrangements, and there is a risk that this could result in catches higher than advised by science. Therefore, an agreement covering the management of the whole of the stock’s catches is needed.

In order to facilitate improved management of the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) has been formed as a partnership of retailers, food service companies and suppliers. The group will use its collective commercial leverage to advocate for coastal states to commit to, and establish fisheries management strategies and to agree sustainable quota shares for these shared pelagic stocks. For further information, follow the link to the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group.

Bycatch

3 of 5
Moderate risk

The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored a moderate risk. This is because purse seine fisheries are at risk of  capturing Endangered Threatened or Protected species such as marine mammals, birds and sharks. However these species are relatively easy to release alive from purse seines and the bycatch of other pelagic species is low. The majority of the Norwegian catch is taken by purse seine vessels, targeting mackerel overwintering close to the Norwegian coastline. A purse seine fleet is also the most important component of the Spanish fleet. There are numerous vessels in the fleet that target mackerel early in the year close to the northern Spanish coast. Denmark also has a purse seine fleet operating in the northern North Sea. Bycatches of other species are less common in the purse seine Norwegian fishery which tends to identify and target single species shoals. However, small by catches of herring and horse mackerel are sometimes taken. Little information is available on the catches of protected, threatened and endangered species in the Norwegian purse seine fishery, which has the potential to accidentally catch both marine mammals and birds.

Habitat

1 of 5
Very low risk

The habitat risk of the purse seine fishery has been scored a very low risk. This is because purse seines do not make contact with the seabed and therefore have no impact on vulnerable marine habitat.