Spain: Voluntary pause in the horse mackerel fishery, with offsetting compensation

by Eurofish
fresh horse mackerel on a counter

The consumption of horse mackerel in the EU is limited, with most of it exported outside the union; however, fresh horse mackerel remains popular in Spain and Portugal.

Spain’s Cantabrian and Northwest Atlantic horse mackerel fishery, shared with UK harvesters, is in dire straits. The total catch of North Atlantic horse mackerel recommended by ICES, the scientific authority on such matters, was zero tonnes for 2023, indicating the trouble that fishery is in. Almost 100 Spanish and UK purse seiners and small craft depend on this fishery and, as always, a balance is sought between the populations of fish and fishermen. To attempt such a balance, the EU, acting on its member states’ behalf, reached an agreement with the UK for a 78% reduction in the total horse mackerel quota for 2023.


To further help avert a horse mackerel crisis, Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has established a period of voluntary cessation in the fishery, combined with financial compensation.  The General Secretary for Fisheries signed a resolution, to be published in the Official State Gazette (BOE), in which the temporary pause will be a minimum of one month and a maximum of three months. The planned compensation to boatowners and to fishermen is expected within the framework of the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) The beneficiary vessels are distributed among the different autonomous communities as follows: 71 in Galicia, 8 in Cantabria, 4 in the Basque Country and 3 in Asturias. The management and payment of the financial assistance shall be done by the relevant autonomous communities.

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