Minister Jordan announces Atlantic mackerel quota for 2021
May 21, 2021
Ottawa, ON - On Canada’s East Coast, Atlantic mackerel plays an important role in local economies as a recreational, commercial and bait fishery. It is also an important food source for many species, including tuna and Atlantic cod. Unfortunately, the number of spawning-age mackerel are at an historic low. Immediate action must be taken to conserve and rebuild the population.
Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced a 4,000-tonne total allowable catch (TAC) for the commercial Atlantic mackerel fishery in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, a 50% reduction from last year. To help ensure all fleets have some fishing opportunities, the quota will be released in two equal amounts with one release now and one release later in the summer. The science shows that by applying this TAC level, the biomass has a 64% chance that it will increase by the time of the next stock assessment in 2023.
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.
The Minister also announced that new regulations on Atlantic mackerel recreational fishery will be coming into effect on May 26, 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 per cent 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.
“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. 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 recognize 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.”
- The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
The Atlantic mackerel bait, recreation and food, social and ceremonial fisheries will continue in 2021.
Amendments to the Atlantic Fisheries Regulations, 1985 will come into force on May 26, 2021. The new regulations will set a daily possession limit of 20 mackerel per person when fishing recreationally, will establish a minimum possession size of 26.8 cm, and will close the recreational fishery from January 1 to March 31 every year.
A Rebuilding Plan for Atlantic mackerel is posted online and will be updated to reflect the recent stock assessment and new management measures in 2021 to support stock rebuilding.
In 2020, the total allowable catch for this fishery was 8,000 tonnes.
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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