Atlantic Mackerel Advisory Committee Meets in Halifax
At last week’s mackerel advisory meeting, FFAW representatives presented ample evidence of a strong Atlantic Mackerel stock. As a result of the strong single of abundance, FFAW members requested an increase in the TAC to 24,000 MT, from the unacceptably low level of 8,000 MT in 2019.
The massive amounts of mackerel observed over broad regions indicate that DFO science is not adequately measuring the biomass of this stock.
In 2019, the fishery closed on September 7th when the TAC was reached, before the fishery in our province really got started. Historically, the best mackerel fishing is in the months following the time of last year’s closure. Harvesters and those who have relied on this fishery missed out on significant income due to the closure, even though it was the most plentiful fish had been in years.
It should be noted that this is a transboundary stock shared by the United States. Historically, Canadians have landed the majority of the fish. However, this year the United States have a quota of over 17,000 MT, while Canada was less than half at only 8000 MT in 2019.
FFAW proposed science that would include improved sampling and data from Newfoundland and Labrador including collection over an extended time from all regions. DFO has not made mackerel science a priority and it is costing harvesters, plant workers and our coastal communities.
Harvesters in all regions must have an opportunity to fish. For example, 4R harvesters did not have an opportunity the last two years because fish usually do not migrate to the region until later in the season (after the 2019 closure). The quota must be adequately raised to accommodate this.
FFAW members also pointed out that if the fishery closes it must close for all harvesters, including harvesters in all Atlantic provinces. Even though several stakeholders did not support the magnitude of the increase in TAC, there was broad support for immediate investment in science programs proposed by FFAW.