Atlantic mackerel are a small forage fish that live across the Northern Atlantic. They have been fished recreationally, commercially and by Indigenous fisheries for hundreds of years. They are commonly caught in coastal communities as mackerel’s annual migration brings them close to shore. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has announced that there will now be daily limits (20 fish), a minimum size for retention (26.8cm), and a limited fishing season (April 1- December 31st) for the Atlantic mackerel recreational fishery. While these regulations are a good first step, more intervention is needed to see this depleted population recover back to healthy levels. Oceana Canada is calling for the publication of the rebuilding plan, that the recreational fishery have licenses and all removals, fish caught recreationally and as bait, be counted against the Total Allowable Catch (TAC).
The Canadian government has a new Fisheries Act that can set the stage for rebuilding fish abundance in Canada’s oceans, including Atlantic mackerel. It is now a requirement that DFO apply measures to maintain fish stocks at or above sustainable levels and to implement rebuilding plans for depleted populations. In addition, the new Fishery Monitoring Policy must be implemented to ensure we have the dependable information required to support sustainable fisheries management. Achieving the Fishery Monitoring Policy objectives for this stock would increase and improve the data available for assessments. Given that this stock supports multiple fisheries through its role in the ecosystem and as a bait fish, it should be prioritized for this policy implementation. The imminent rebuilding plan for Atlantic mackerel, combined with recreational licensing and a TAC inclusive of all landings, would provide the interventions needed to support the long-term recovery of this depleted population.
To learn more about the new regulations for Atlantic mackerel, and to submit comments on them by November 8th, click here and to discover more incredible facts about this forage fish check out the Marine Life Encyclopedia.