Irish Pelagic Sustainability Group (IPSG) western mackerel pelagic trawl
Certified as sustainable on 28th August 2009.
The Conformity Assessment Body, Food Certification International Ltd., have accepted the final corrective action plan put forward by the Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance (MINSA) for the
Suspension of the fishery certificate will not be lifted until all stated goals of the corrective action plan have been fully met and the harmonised condition of certification is met in full..
Please refer to the assessment downloads section for further information.
Species: Mackerel (Scomber scombrus)
Location: EU Waters: in ICES sub-areas VI, VII and VIII and Division Vb, and International waters in sub-areas XII and XIV and Division IIa.
Fishing methods: Pelagic mid-water trawl (single and pair trawlers but not purse seine)
Vessels: 22 Refrigerated Sea Water (RSW) vessels
Number of fisheries: 1
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More about mackerel
The Atlantic mackerel Scomber scombrus L. is found throughout the temperate coastal–shelf waters of the North Atlantic and associated seas. In the north-west Atlantic it is found from the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of St Lawrence, and from Morocco to Norway, including the Mediterranean Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat and westernmost Baltic Sea in the north-east Atlantic. Periodically, and currently it appears to be such a period, it is also found in the summer off the southern coast of Iceland.
The mackerel is a shoaling fish that spends much of its time in mid water, i.e. it is a pelagic species, but during the winter it tends to form extensive shoal aggregations, typically along the edge of the continental shelf (c. 200 m). Mackerel spawning takes place in all the shelf waters from the northern North Sea, southwards and into the Mediterranean but the principal spawning ground for mackerel in the north-east Atlantic appears to be in the Celtic Sea area. Spawning commences in the southern Bay of Biscay in late January–February and progressively moves northwards reaching peak intensity in the Celtic Sea in late May–June. Peak spawning west of Scotland and in the northern North Sea is a month later.
After spawning, the mackerel disperse to form smaller summer feeding shoals. Bay of Biscay spawners disperse throughout the Bay of Biscay but some may also move into the English Channel, the Norwegian coast, west coast of Scotland and the North Sea. Fish in the Celtic Sea area also disperse locally but many migrate northwards along the west coast of Ireland, Scotland, northern North Sea and into the Norwegian Sea, including Faroese and international waters of the western Norwegian Sea. Mackerel that spawn in the northern North Sea may also disperse locally or move through to the western Baltic or north to the Norwegian Sea.
From the earliest first-feeding larvae through to adult fish, plankton forms an important part of mackerel diet but mature fish also feed on other small pelagic fish. Generally, they do not feed over winter and the largest, earliest spawning fish do not commence feeding until after they have spawned. Smaller fish that spawn later in the season are more likely to commence feeding before spawning. Whichever is the case, the feeding pattern has a distinct effect on the annual fat (oil) cycle of the fish. In the spring, once spawning is complete, a large (450+g) mackerel has less than 5% body weight as fat but towards the end of the feeding season, in autumn, this increases to 25–30% body weight. Smaller fish tend to have a lower fat content at the end of the feeding season.
More about the fishing methods
The mid-water trawl used by the Irish fleet is designed and rigged to fish in mid-water, including in the surface water. The large net consists of a cone shaped body, ending in a cod end with lateral wings extending forward from the opening. The horizontal opening is maintained by mid-water otter boards (or in the case of pair trawling by two vessels operating a net’s width apart) whilst the vertical opening is maintained by a weighted ground line and floats on the headline – although these are not always required – depending on the way the net is rigged. Some single vessels may also use kites to maintain headline height and net gape. The wings of the net start at 25.6 meters and taper down to 120mm full mesh. The codend is 50mm full mesh. Towing speed is typically 4 to 4.5 knots when targeting mackerel.
38,000 tonnes in 2008
Landings from the Irish pelagic RSW vessels that fish the Western mackerel fishery are used entirely for human consumption. Most of such landings are processed locally before export as frozen product to significant markets in Japan, Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, or to intermediate markets in Western Europe and South East Asia.