Retailer, processor group slams Norway’s mackerel quota increase

Published on
June 1, 2021

Norway’s decision to set a unilateral quota for Northeast Atlantic mackerel that increases the country’s national catch by 106,456 metric tons (MT) to 298,299 MT has been condemned by the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA). 

NAPA, which was created in 2020 to advocate for long-term, sustainable management of the region’s pelagic fisheries, said the decision taken by the Norwegian government directly challenges the cooperative and sustainable management of the crucial stock.

“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,” NAPA said. “The ultimate consequence of this action? Continuing disputes over quota allocation of mackerel will result in an annual catch well in excess of the scientifically advised quota. As a body of over 50 retailers, foodservice companies, and suppliers from across the world, we want to underscore in the strongest terms that this has major implications for the supply chain who have made public commitments to source sustainable seafood.”

The group also highlighted that the inability of the coastal states to follow the scientific advice and reach agreement on quotas has already resulted in the loss of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for mackerel.

NAPA said that commitments to sustainable fishing have been made by all coastal states involved in Northeast Atlantic mackerel fisheries through the adoption of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 14 on “life below water.”

Yet these commitments are ignored whenever it is convenient, it said.

NAPA is urging 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.

“We have written to the heads of delegations for NEAFC today to this effect, and will continue to advocate our position as we approach the coastal states meeting in October,” it said.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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