MACKEREL have just lost their ‘sustainable’ eating label, raising the alarm for sea and pike anglers... who are not to blame for the problem of low stocks.

Once promoted by green campaigners like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as an alternative to endangered cod and haddock, British mackerel has been stripped of its Marine Stewardship Council approval. It’s largely due to overfishing by commercial boats.

Anglers’ summer catches were dismal in many areas in 2018, and that trend looks set to continue this year.

But sea fishing ace and conservationist Mike Thrussell does not think anglers should stop eating their mackerel catches.

Mike told Angler’s Mail: “In many areas over the past few years mackerel have been in lower numbers overall and often showing much later in the summer than would be normal.

“Also, they tend to be getting smaller in size. Yet again, commercial over fishing pushing a species down to concerning levels.

“You can’t blame anglers as they’ve been struggling to catch them.

“Their numbers are caught commercially elsewhere before even getting close to the UK coast so anglers should carry on as normal.”

‘Mackerel should not be banned as pike bait’

Mackerel are also in the top three pike angling baits in freshwater but predator ace Neville Fickling doesn’t think the bait should be banned.

Neville said: “I sell frozen mackerel but the numbers are very low compared to the international trade in mackerel.

“It does surprise me they are being considered at risk as I’ve had no problems getting supplies although last summer most were much smaller than normal.

“But pike anglers aren’t the cause of any problems and what they use has already been landed by trawlers.

“Pike anglers get told not to use eels or lamprey or mackerel, where will it stop?” added Neville.

‘Disappointment for the fishermen’

Camiel Derichs, Europe director for the MSC, said: “This news will be a disappointment for the fishermen as well as for mackerel loving consumers.

“However, factors including declining stocks, quotas set above new scientific advice and poor recruitment have combined to mean that the fisheries no longer meet the MSC’s requirements.

“We have a further study planned.”

Mackerel is by far the most commercially important fish to the UK’s commercial fishing industry.

In 2017, UK vessels landed 226,900 tonnes of mackerel, earning around £203m. Mackerel accounted for nearly a third of the total weight of fish and shellfish landed in the UK.

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