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Mackerel off the list

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has downgraded mackerel from its list of fish suitable to eat, saying it is no longer a sustainable choice. The Marine Stewardship Council, which certifies fish stocks that are managed sustainably, has suspended its certification of the north-east Atlantic mackerel fishery.

The Guardian (22-01-13) quotes MCS Fisheries Officer Bernadette Clarke saying: "If people want to continue eating mackerel they should ensure they buy it from as sustainable a source as possible. That means fish caught locally using traditional methods – including handlines, ringnets and drift nets – or from suppliers who are signatories to the principles of the Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance."

Harry May comments: I am quite happy that mackerel have been removed from the list of sustainable fish. The slaughter of these fish goes on and on, week in week out, and the recommendation now is that we should only try and eat mackerel caught on hook and line.

Marie FModern fishing methods now allow a trawler, using a net that would envelope St Paul's Cathedral, to scoop up every single mackerel in that shoal. The fish are then sucked out of the water and into the trawler.

Here’s a first-hand account of the way the trawlers operate from John:

“I’ve been out on huge Scottish boats designed for mackerel and herring. I can attest to the shock of seeing entire shoals of fish being hoovered up without any work. Their £15 million boats run up and down the coast for four hours with the best tech, locating the fish and they haul the entire shoal and are back in harbour by lunchtime with thousands of tonnes.”

Super trawler MagarisAs global warming slowly creeps up and the seas warm up just a few degrees, mackerel are moving ever northwards and into Icelandic and Faroe Island waters in huge numbers. The fishermen there can’t believe their luck. Given the increased quantity of mackerel in their waters, they have unilaterally upped their quotas for these fish and are currently landing very large amounts. Fearing the bonanza cannot last, their attitude is probably that it’s better to catch them now in case they go south again.

Mackerel has become increasingly popular thanks to the health benefits of eating oily fish. So taking a Lyme Regis mackerel fishing trip aboard one of Harry May's Boat Trips is an enjoyable, sustainable and thoroughly good way to catch your supper … one fish at a time! If you need an oily fish alternative, try herring or sardines.

Published on 22/01/2013.

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