Iceland’s mackerel fishery gains MSC certification

02 Nov 2017
mackerel

The MSC certificate covers mackerel caught using pelagic trawls, purse seine nets, handlines and bottom trawls

Iceland’s mackerel fishery has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification following assessment by SAI Global.

Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is the most recent newcomer to Icelandic coastal waters. It made its home there in the beginning of the 21st century and has since flourished.

Kristinn Hjálmarsson, project manager at Iceland Sustainable Fisheries (ISF), said: “Mackerel is now the second to third most valuable fish landed in Iceland after cod. All the 7 main pelagic fishing companies in Iceland are members of the ISF client group, which consists of 55 companies.

“At ISF we hope that the countries will manage to get an overall agreement on how they share the Total Allowable Catch (TAC).”

Management plan

The MSC certificate covers mackerel caught using pelagic trawls, purse seine nets, handlines and bottom trawls and the Icelandic certificate includes a commitment to work towards an internationally-agreed mackerel management plan.

Mackerel has, over the last decades, increased in popularity and the value of the catch has risen accordingly.

Icelandic catches of mackerel in 2016 were 170, 516 tonnes. About 90% of these catches were taken inside the Icelandic EEZ, almost 7% in international waters, and 4% inside the Greenland EEZ.

Abundance of mackerel

Direct catches of mackerel in Icelandic EEZ started in 2006. The mackerel is a migratory species moving to northern waters for summer feeding. In later years, the summer distribution area has increased hugely towards north and northwest resulting in an increase abundance of mackerel in Icelandic waters over the last decade.

Gísli Gíslason, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) senior programme manager for Iceland, Faroe and Greenland, commented: "We hope that all states which harvest mackerel in North Atlantic will demonstrate their commitment to sustainable fisheries, and to the objectives in Sustainable Development Goals…”