International negotiations on the North East Atlantic mackerel stock are underway in Clonakilty, Co Cork, to establish an agreement on the total allowable catch (TAC) for 2017.

Mackerel talks

Killybegs based MFV Neptune: Ireland’s 2016 mackerel quota is 75,000 tonnes.         Photo J Cunningham

Delegations from Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes will attempt to reach consensus on the 5 million tonnes biomass, observed by the Russian Federation and Greenland.

Ireland’s marine minister, Michael Creed, said the fact that Ireland was once again hositng these Coastal State negotiations, emphasised the economic importance of the stock to the Irish fishing industry.

“Mackerel is the single most valuable stock for the Irish fleet and we need to secure agreement at international level on management arrangements and catch levels for this stock.”

Ireland is hoping that a long-term management strategy reached last year can be agreed. Ireland’s current quota is 75,000 tonnes, the second highest share in the EU “in line with the latest scientific advice”, Minister Creed added.

Mackerel is concentrated in the waters of the North Eastern Atlantic and is a highly migratory stock that necessitates negotiations between the ‘Coastal States’ on how best to sustainably manage the shared resource. 

The mackerel biomass is estimated at roughly 5 million tonnes, and catches by all parties in 2016 is worth approximately €1bn. Ireland’s mackerel fishery supports a large fleet in Donegal and along the western seaboard, and onshore processing factories in Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Cork.