In its continuing efforts to persuade European countries that herring and mackerel stocks need rebuilding, ICES recently recommended large cuts in the catch quotas for herring and mackerel in areas fished by vessels of the EU, Norway, Russia, Iceland, and the Faroes. From a total estimated herring catch of 828 thousand tonnes in 2022, the recommended catch in 2023 should be 511 thousand tonnes, the international scientific body said, noting the herring stock continues to decline due to heavy fishing and poor recruitment of replacement stocks. For NE Atlantic mackerel, with an estimated 2022 catch of 1,131 thousand tonnes, the recommended total catch in 2023 is 782 thousand tonnes. Management of mackerel is ineffective: the catch has exceeded recommendations by 41% since 2010.
Elsewhere, the recommended catch of horse mackerel in 2023 is zero tonnes, while that for blue whiting is a recommended increase of 1,360 thousand tonnes over the 2022 recommendation of 753 thousand tonnes. On a related note, the Council of the European Union announced agreement with the European Commission jointly to “follow a comprehensive approach to setting fishing opportunities” in 2023, by which the bodies aim to “carry over the current fishing opportunities for several stocks [from 2022] into 2023. Slightly more practically, this means to limit fishing to unavoidable by-catches for cod, salmon, and western herring, as well as to maintain spawning closures in recreational fisheries for Baltic cod and salmon in some areas.
Recent rules making the use of more selective fishing gear for flatfish mandatory is expected to allow an increase of the plaice total allowable catch (TAC), without putting more pressure on severely stressed cod stocks.