Nearly a third of Scotland’s fish landings (by value) are mackerel. However, there remain massive issues about where this benefit lands, given the majority of mackerel quota is currently controlled by a few individuals, that roughly half of the mackerel caught by Scottish boats is landed directly abroad and that commercial interests have resisted attempts to encourage them to land more in Scotland. Hopefully this will not continue through the COVID-19 crisis.
They are delicious, and whether you eat them fresh, smoked or even as sushi, they are extremely good for you. In fact, Scottish dietary guidelines say you should be aiming for one portion of oily fish (like mackerel or herring) each week.
We haven’t mapped the landings to foreign ports (although you can view the overall Scottish mackerel landings by value from 2015 here) but below you can see that, whilst the main ports dominate the landings – 56,000 tonnes to Peterhead, 14,000 tonnes to Lerwick – each year a couple of tonnes land to Scrabster, Eyemouth, Ullapool, some of the small port towns on the north Aberdeenshire coast like Portsoy and Rosehearty, even to Pittenweem on the Fife coast. This happens especially during the summer when shoals of mackerel head in to the coasts. Much of this has typically been used for baiting creels (shellfish pots) for crabs, lobsters and langoustine.
The Good Fish Guide has it rated green and green/amber throughout our seas – and, though there are some issues to do with overfishing in the big pelagic fishery, hand-lining is all green rated.
This blog is part of our ‘Fish Local’ series, to help inform how you can buy locally-landed and sustainable seafood.
Mapped data courtesy of MMO and made available under OGL. Catch data – 2018 UK Vessel Landings per ICES rectangle. Landings data – 2018 UK Vessel Landings to Scottish Ports. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-sea-fisheries-annual-statistics-report-2018.
Fish images above courtesy of illustrations from The Natural History of British Fishes (1802) by Edward Donovan (1768-1837), digitally enhanced by rawpixel.com and adapted by Open Seas