March 30, 2021 – At today’s virtual advisory meeting, FFAW representatives presented ample evidence of a strong Atlantic mackerel stock. As a result of the strong sign of abundance, FFAW members requested an increase in the TAC to 10,000 mt, from the low level of 8,0000 mt in 2020. 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, the United States had a TAC of 21,517 mt in 2020.
In addition, FFAW is calling on DFO to revise its approach to mackerel science so that a true understanding of the size and migration of the stock can be understood. DFO closed the commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery on November 10th, 2020, just when a large body of mackerel arrived on the Northeast Coast.
“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,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. “The massive amounts of mackerel observed over broad regions indicate that DFO science is not adequately measuring the biomass of this stock.”
The current DFO approach to assessing the size of the mackerel stocks involves a survey in the southern Gulf, far from the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador where a significant amount of commercial-sized mackerel are caught and landed in this province. FFAW proposed science that would include improved sampling and data from Newfoundland and Labrador including collection over an extended time from all regions.
“Harvesters in all regions must have an opportunity to fish, especially those in areas such as 4R and the Northeast Coast where fish usually do not migrate until later in the season. The quota must be adequately raised to accommodate this,” Sullivan concluded.