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Mackerel is a fast swimming species belonging to a group of fish called Scombrids and are related to tuna. They swim in huge shoals which feed on small fish and prawns. It's oil rich with a silver and blue striped skin. When cooked the meat is really creamy and is full of omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel is best eaten fresh and can be grilled, fried or smoked. It is rumoured to improve brain power so an ideal starter fish for the kids. Handline-caught mackerel is the most sustainable choice as it's a very selective fishing method.
The combined Northeast Atlantic mackerel is assessed as one stock, but comprises three spawning components (Southern, Western and North Sea). Based on the most recent scientific advice (Sept 2012) ICES classifies the stock as healthy but fishing mortality is too high and the stock is being harvested unsustainably or above recommended levels. A management plan is in place which sets fishing effort at a sustainable level, however in recent years the mackerel stock has moved west and is now targeted in much larger numbers by the Icelandic and Faroese fleet. Both nations have set unilateral quotas outside of the agreed TAC and at present, Icelandic and Faroese landings are outside the internationally agreed TAC. This has led to fishing mortality higher than that stated in the management plan. Agreement on the share of the TAC between all countries fishing mackerel must be reached in order to maintain a healthy fishery and stock. Until recently much of the commercial mackerel fishery in the northeast Atlantic was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The certification was suspended in 2012 when agreement on international fishing effort could not be reached. An action plan, aimed at solving the ongoing mackerel dispute in the North East Atlantic, has been submitted to the MSC by the Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance (MINSA) ? a group of the 7 MSC certified mackerel fisheries whose certificates are currently suspended as a result of the impasse. The successful development of the action plan means that the fisheries? certificates may remain suspended until the situation is resolved ? when they will be re-instated without the need for a full reassessment. To ensure the mackerel you buy is as sustainable as possible only source fish caught locally using traditional methods including handlines, ringnets and drift nets and from suppliers who are signatories to the principles of MINSA (Mackerel Industry Northern Sustainability Alliance).
(Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 3 and below are included.)
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