Mackerel is 'off the menu' over conservation fears

Fresh mackerel: The fish are no longer considered a sustainable choice Credit: Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire

Mackerel should be off the menu according to a marine conservation charity.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said it had removed mackerel, an oily fish packed with omega 3, from its latest version of its "fish to eat" list, and it should be eaten only occasionally.

The stock has moved into Icelandic and Faroese waters, probably following their prey of small fish, crustaceans and squid.As a result, both countries have begun to fish more mackerel than was previously agreed.The total catch is now far in excess of what has been scientifically recommended and previously agreed upon by all participating countries.Negotiations to introduce new catch allowances have so far failed to reach agreement.

ITV News reporter Martha Fairlie:

The conservation group said good alternatives to mackerel were herring and sardine, and if people wanted to continue to buy mackerel, they should ensure it is as sustainable as possible - for example, fish caught locally using traditional methods.

Another fish taken off the "fish to eat" list is gurnard, because of a lack of data on population levels and concerns about how stocks of the increasingly popular fish are being managed.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said the MCS reacted far too quickly in taking mackerel off the "fish to eat" list.

He said:

Mackerel is still being sustainably caught and it is important that the consumer is made aware of this.The north east Atlantic stock is in robust health and the sustainable fishing practices of our fleets have actually led to an increase in abundance in the stock in recent years.However, the over-fishing of the stock by Iceland and the Faroes is leading to some uncertainty over the future, and this is why it is essential that these countries come back to the negotiating table and agree a sensible deal.