Trial mackerel inshore fishery 2014-2017: review

A background to the creation of the inshore mackerel fisheries and review of the impacts of the 2014-17 trial period of expanded access and quota allocation.

Evaluation of trial period

Impact of trial

The impacts of the trial fishery have been evaluated with reference to the landings, mackerel prices, number of vessels participating, annual reviews of the fishery, and on-going feedback from fishermen, Fishermen's Associations and Fishery Offices. Data from the trial period was compared with 2013, the year before the trial. 2017 data has not been included in the analysis as this is not available at this time. As well as data from the whole of Scotland, individual quota allocation areas were examined. Annex 3 contains data on landings, numbers of vessels participating, value of landings and prices.

Variations in the data reflect geographic variation in stock abundance from year to year and the duration and timing of the mackerel season which may influence vessel participation. Landings and vessel participation varies from area to area due to local circumstances such as availability of buyers, markets, processors and transport and infrastructure, etc.

Overall, the Scottish Government considers that the trial fishery has been a success. The additional quota has provided economic benefits to coastal fishing communities across Scotland and in many areas increased participation in the fishery. In light of this, the Scottish Government proposes to continue access to the fishery for under 10 metre vessels in the non-sector for the foreseeable future.

1. Do you agree that the mackerel allocations for 10mu non-sector pool fishery should continue?

Landings and uptake

Between 2013 and 2017 there was a substantial increase in landings in the Moray Firth, Orkney and Shetland. In the West of Scotland there was a small increase in landings between 2013 and 2016 but the uptake remains low at around 5-6%.
IVb landings between 2013 and 2016 fluctuated over the period ending up lower in 2016 than 2013.

There has been effective utilisation of the quota allocation in the North Sea fishery whilst in the West of Scotland it has been somewhat different. The uptake of quota is low with no sign that this situation will change. For this reason the Scottish Government proposes that the additional quota allocation to the West of Scotland is reduced to 50 tonnes.

2. Do you agree that the current allocation (1000 tonnes) for the North Sea stock is the right amount?

3. Do you agree that the additional allocation (300 tonnes) for the western stock should be reduced to 50 tonnes?

Economic benefits

In general the increased allocation of mackerel has benefited most areas involved in the fishery; through increased numbers of vessels participating in the fishery, or through economic benefits, particularly in areas of high quota uptake in the communities of North East Scotland, Orkney and Shetland.

Even in areas such as the West of Scotland where there has been relatively low uptake and vessel participation, there have been economic benefits. The value of landings there in 2016 was over double what it was in 2013.

The North Sea area, in particular saw considerable economic benefits. In Shetland, for example, the annual value of landings rose from £94,368 in 2013 before the trial to £247,884 in 2016. Similarly Orkney saw a rise from £4,462 to £21,739 in the same period and in the Moray Firth area the value of landings rose from £229,667 to £431,496.

4. Do you agree with the arrangements for the current quota allocation pools for the NS mackerel stock? i.e. managing pots of quota discreetly by ports of administration?

5. Do you think that the allocation shares between these pools should change?

Vessel participation and new entrants

Vessel participation fluctuates in all areas with numbers of vessels at a peak in 2015 in IVb, Moray Firth and Orkney and at a peak in Shetland and West of Scotland in 2014. The Moray Firth, Orkney and Shetland show an overall increase in participating vessels between 2013 and 2016.

We are aware that physical and natural constraints have an impact on participation. These range from simply the tides and weather, to accessible processing facilities, markets and the cost of the transport of the landed fish. In the West of Scotland it was anticipated that some fishermen might diversity from shellfish but there has been no significant evidence of this happening. There has been some evidence from skippers that the mackerel doesn't come as close to shore any longer and therefore it's tougher to target.

Prices paid for handline mackerel

Average prices have fluctuated between 2013 and 2016. In the North Sea, prices are higher for mackerel (both handline and trawl) than in the West of Scotland.
A premium of up to 20% was paid for line caught mackerel over the price of trawled mackerel.

Markets and processing

Shetland and Peterhead, in particular, have been able to make good use of the additional quota due to well established onshore and transport infrastructure and the natural abundance of mackerel in the area.

Unutilised quota

A key feature of the management of the fishery has been an arrangement whereby quota which is unutilised by the inshore non-sector to vessels is transferred to pelagic sector. In total, 984 tonnes of NS mackerel has been reallocated to the pelagic sector since the trial began. This amount has reduced in each year of the trial.

Mackerel entitlements

The increased allocation for the four-year period of the fishery has provided open access for all 10mu, non-sector licence holders. However, there are 320 or so handline mackerel entitlements for the North Sea fishery, which are currently defunct but still associated with licences. In line with the Government's proposals to continue the mackerel allocation, it is also proposed that all handline mackerel entitlements are extinguished and removed from licences.

The success of the trial means that the mackerel entitlements are no longer relevant to the management of the fishery. This is further emphasised by the current pelagic landings obligation which makes restrictive licensing redundant too.

6. Do you agree with the Scottish Government's proposal to establish handline mackerel as a fishery open to all 10mu licences and therefore remove all handline mackerel entitlements from licences?

Over 10m non sector access to the fishery

The Scottish Government considers that the inshore mackerel fishery should continue to provide opportunities to small vessels in the under 10 metre non sector only. However, some have suggested that access should be broadened to over 10 metre vessels in the non-sector. Therefore the Government would be interested to hear in more detail about the potential for widening access to the fishery.

7. Should all non sector vessels (under and over 10m in length) have access to the inshore mackerel fishery?

8. Do you have any other comments or suggestions about the future management of the fishery?


Email: Ross Parker

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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