Irish Pelagic Sustainability Association (IPSA) Western mackerel
Certified as sustainable in July 2010.
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: Entirely within EU Waters in ICES Divisions VI, VII and ICES sub areas IVa, Vb, VIIIa, b, d & e.
Fishing methods: Irish mid-water pelagic pair trawl
Number of fisheries: 1
More about mackerel
Mackerel stock is historically divided into three components; the North Sea component, the western component and the southern component. It should be noted that considerable uncertainty surrounds the definitions of the spawning components, which are primarily defined by fish aggregations in the separate areas identified by egg survey. There is no evidence of genetic separation, implying that these separate components are not isolated and there is enough migration between them for their population genetics to be the same.
The majority of the IPSA fishing effort is to the west of Scotland and Ireland and is therefore catching predominantly mackerel from the western component (hence the use of the term ‘Western’ in the title of the fishery assessment) and is unlikely to contribute to capture of North Sea mackerel. However, for the purposes of this assessment, scoring is based on the whole north east Atlantic stock – the scale at which the fishery is managed.
The western mackerel component is found near to the continental slope, over a vast area. These fish spawn between March and July, mainly to the south and west of the British Isles. When spawning is finished, most of the spent fish move to the feeding grounds in the northern North Sea and the Norwegian Sea where they mix with the other components. Some western mackerel, predominantly small individuals, also enter the North Sea through the English Channel. The western stock mackerel travel long distances between the feeding grounds and the spawning areas.
The diet of mackerel can vary with the area and the season. By weight, almost half of the food consists of crustacea (planktonic copepods). The remainder is made up of juvenile fish such as sandeel, herring and Norway pout. Myctophids can also form an important part of the diet of mackerel, and a rich source of oil, these are found around and over the continental shelf edge.
More about the fishing methods
Pelagic pair trawls are towed by two partner vessels with nets towed at the appropriate level in the water column to intercept target shoals, with gear depth being controlled by altering towing speed and/or warp length. Depth transducers on the head rope give an accurate indication of net height from the seabed, enabling vessels to fish within approximately 2m of the seabed, whilst ensuring that there is no impact on bottom habitats or structures. No part of the trawl is designed to come in contact with the sea bed and any accidental contact with the seabed would typically result in expensive damage to the net, as these are considerably lighter than demersal trawl net.
The 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 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. IPSA Pelagic Mackerel Pair Trawl use a cod end mesh size of 50mm, with a net opening of 30-36m (Vertical) and 50-70m (Horizontal) opening. Each vessel is equipped with one 'mid water' weight 1000-2000kg.
Landings of mackerel by the certified (IPSA) fleet have accounted for around 5,000 tonnes in recent years, most recently 5,500 tonnes in 2009. This represents approximately three quarters of all polyvalent mackerel landings, and around 10% of Irish mackerel landings.
Landings from the IPSA pelagic vessels that fish the Western mackerel fishery are used 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.
Actual eligibility date
26th October 2009.