MCS just don't want ANYONE to be allowed to fish commercially, Davie

MCS urges caution over Mackerel Stocks

THE Marine Conservation Society says the news that mackerel stocks may be increasing is welcome, but it is urging all parties to keep fishing pressure at or below their current levels until a full stock assessment is made available. It added that the news should not be seen as a "green light" to increase fishing pressure on mackerel.

Interim advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) last week suggested that stocks of mackerel may have increased in recent years, but unexpectedly, the body will be making no formal assessment available until next year. ICES, the independent assessment body of fisheries scientists, has thrown out its traditional data assessment methodology for the fishery because growing uncertainty in catch data before 2005 has altered its perception of the stock.

Jim Masters, MCS Aqauculture and Fisheries manager, said: "Fisheries scientists have an enormous task in providing estimates of stock size, particularly for widely distributed stocks like mackerel, yet their estimates will only ever be as good as the data that is made available to them. We will be seeking further clarification of the latest advice from ICES and will also be talking to stakeholders as we review ratings for the fishery for our updated Fishonline and Good Fish Guide."

Recent catches and preliminary findings from egg surveys show an increasing trend in stock size (by up to 1.7 times); and ICES suggest that the stock has both expanded and moved further north and west into regions so far unreported. There may be a wide range of environmental conditions that have led to this movement of stocks, but the MCS said that whatever the reasons, they are likely to be dynamic, resulting in continuous fluctuations in stock size.

The MCS said the dynamic nature of the fishery highlights the importance to reach international agreement on respective quota allocations among the participating nations that target this stock.