Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan has announced a 4000-tonne TAC for the commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, a 50% reduction from last year.
The quota will be released in two equal amounts with one release now and one release later in the summer. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the science shows that by applying this TAC level, the biomass has a 64% chance that it will increase by the next stock assessment in 2023.
‘This is a difficult decision that has economic impacts on commercial harvesters and their communities, but the science is clear – stronger actions need to be taken to rebuild the Atlantic mackerel stock,’ Bernadette Jordan said.
In making her decision, the Minister considered findings of the 2021 Atlantic mackerel stock assessment, which described the lowest level ever observed for spawning fish. She also considered the economic importance of the stock, which in 2018, had a the total landed value of $10.7 million. Reducing commercial fishing will help support stock growth over time, while also allowing harvesters and communities to generate income from this important fishery.
‘I am hopeful that this decision will lead to growth in the stock over the next two years, as demonstrated by the science model. However, if the spawning biomass does not increase over the next two years, we are likely heading towards a commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery closure. I recognise that many harvesters depend on this fishery, and we will continue working with them and fishing groups across the Atlantic over the next two years to ensure the best outcome for the stock and all involved,’ she commented.
The Minister also announced that new regulations on Atlantic mackerel recreational fishery will be coming into effect on 26th May 2021 to further protect the stock. The new regulations will – for the first time – place limits on the number of mackerel being fished, and establish opening and closing dates for the recreational fishery.
In recent years, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has introduced a number of management measures to support Atlantic mackerel stock rebuilding. The Department brought in measures to protect spawning fish and improved catch monitoring and reporting. In 2019, the Department implemented a 20% reduction in total allowable catch.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to actively review the management regime for Atlantic mackerel. The department will continue to engage the United States on joint conservation objectives, and is focused on improving the monitoring of, and reporting on, this important stock.