It is a sad day when it was announced that one of our favourite summer fish the humble Mackerel have now been downgraded by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), from a sustainable fish to one that we should only eat occasionally. The main cause for the concern over the Mackerel stocks has come about because Iceland and the Faroe Islands have increased their catch quote from a few hundred tonnes to 145,000 and 148,000 tonnes.
Figures show that in 2012 almost 1 million tonnes of Mackerel were landed. The MCS believes that we can only land around half that much this year to ensure that stocks remain sustainable. Popular TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall has removed the famous Mackerel Baps from his canteen menu in line with the River Cottage view on using sustainable resources.
How will this effect our favourite summer target species? I know many of you will be thinking that a few anglers chucking out some feathers will not make much difference to the almost one million tonnes of Mackerel landed each year, but I urge you to think again.
One fact that I do know is that at least a million anglers fish for mackerel every year. Lets just say that on average (these are just figures I am making up) each angler catches and keeps 10 fish. That’s 10 million fish. Now think about the number of people that we have seen staggering up the beach with sacks full of Mackerel. They take them home to give to their neighbours and friends to show how great a hunter gatherer they are. Figures like that start to increase the average catch per person, even if it increases it by 5, that’s now 15 million fish killed. Many of those extra fish wont see a dinner plate, they will be received with a friendly smile and a thought of what the hell am I going to do with these, before being dumped in the bin after a week in the fridge. Yes you and I know that fresh fish are far better tasting than anything you can buy even from a fishmonger, but your average non fishing friend has no idea or desire, to know how to prepare a freshly caught fish.
Rod and line fishing is still the most sustainable method of catching fish, but this summer think about the number of Mackerel that you kill, and ask yourself will they be used for bait or food. If not then simply don’t kill them.