Atlantic mackerel – NAFO subareas 3 and 4

Dates of season (subject to change)

April to November

Total Allowable Catches

Commercial TAC of 4,000 tonnes for 2021.

Management measures

A Canadian total allowable catch of 4,000 tonnes for the competitive commercial fishery in 2021. In order to allow all fleets to have access to the resource and to take into account the migration of mackerel through Canadian waters, the TAC will be divided into two equal parts. The first 2,000 tonnes will be available at the opening of the fishery. The fishery will temporarily close when the first allocation is reached. Following this, the second 2,000 tonnes allocation will be made available to allow fleets that have access to the resource later in the season to maintain a fishing opportunity.

A freeze on the issuance of new commercial mackerel licences for fixed and mobile gear will remain in effect. This includes the addition of new gear types to existing commercial licences. Under this measure there are no new commercial licences; however, current commercial licence holders are permitted to transfer licences.

The minimum fish size for commercial mackerel retention remains at 26.8 cm, based on the results of 2021 stock assessment.

Single or multi-year planning

This decision is for this year (2021) only.

Additional information

The department undertook a stock assessment for Atlantic mackerel in March 2021 and presented the results to the Atlantic Mackerel Advisory Committee (AMAC). The results of the  stock assessment indicate that the spawning stock biomass is the lowest ever observed and has been in or near the Critical Zone for the past decade. The scientific analyses indicate that the Atlantic mackerel stock is overfished, the age structure has collapsed, and fishing mortality is a significant influence on stock status. This reduction in TAC is a necessary step toward rebuilding the stock.

On May 26, 2021, regulatory amendments to the Atlantic Fisheries Regulations, 1985 came into force. These amendments will:

  • close recreational fishing every year from January 1 to March 31
  • set a daily limit of 20 Atlantic mackerel per person when fishing recreationally
  • increase the minimum size for possession to 26.8 cm for both commercial and recreational fishing to help protect juvenile fish
  • set a limit of 5 fishing lines with a maximum of 6 hooks per line

Links to other information

An update of the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Mackerel is under development. 

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