mackerelNorway is veering away from sustainability, warns NAPA. Photo: Quentin Bates

The Norwegian government’s decision to set a unilateral quota for Northeast Atlantic mackerel has been called “alarming”.

Increasing Norway’s catch of mackerel by 106,456t up to 298,299t challenges cooperative and sustainable stock management, said the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA).

“This action undermines efforts to reach an agreement between all parties to achieve long-term sustainability of the stock and will lead to other Coastal States seeking reciprocal increases in their quotas – we are seeing the tragedy of the commons played out in real-time,” stressed the group.

Supply chain sustainability threat

It warns that continuing disputes over quota allocation of mackerel will result in an annual catch well in excess of the scientifically advised quota and will have major implications for a sustainable seafood supply chain.

The inability of the Coastal States to follow the scientific advice and reach agreement on quotas has thus far resulted in the loss of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for mackerel, noted NAPA.

Commitments to sustainable fishing have been made by all coastal States involved in Northeast Atlantic mackerel fisheries through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 14 on ‘life below water’, but the associated commitments are “ignored whenever it is convenient,” said the group.

NAPA members have launched a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) for Northeast Atlantic mackerel to channel the power of the market to incentivise positive changes toward sustainability in the fishery through policy change.

Supply chain businesses should not need to work to drive forward science-based management of common resources. This is the responsibility of the Coastal States governments and needs to be addressed urgently, said NAPA.

NAPA urges all Coastal States to commit to and establish binding fisheries management strategies and to agree sustainable quota shares for all the shared stocks in the Northeast Atlantic that follow scientific advice.

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