Commission launches long-term management approach for western horse mackerel
The European Commission today adopted a proposal for a long-term plan for the sustainable management of horse mackerel across the eastern Atlantic from the Iberian Peninsula to the northern North Sea.
The proposal comes in response to an initiative launched by the fishing sector concerned and based on the results of a scientific working group. European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg commented: "The case of horse mackerel is a fine example of the sector – in this case the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council – getting involved in the discussion on long-term management and committing to knowledge- and science-based management." The plan is innovative in the sense that it provides rules for setting fishing opportunities based on a biological indicator rather than on full scientific stock assessment. This means that the fishing opportunities will be adapted according to the number of eggs produced by the stock. The Commission believes that having in place a management plan that builds on the available, if scarce, biological information on the state of the stock, will lead to obtaining more information on the stock and fisheries involved in the future. This will allow for improvements to be made to the plan. The aim of this plan is to bring the stock to its maximum sustainable yield – i.e. the point at which the largest catch or yield can continuously be taken from the stock under the prevailing environmental conditions without continuously diminishing the stock size and its reproductive capacity. Nowadays, horse mackerel is fished less for its oil and more for human consumption. The fleets involved are mostly large trawlers which catch a range of pelagic species such as mackerel, herring and blue whiting. The proposed long-term management plan will affect average annual catches of some 140 000 tonnes. The proposed new plan is based on input from stakeholders and on scientific advice from both the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Commission's own Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).