Nova Scotia survey finds most recreational mackerel fishermen support daily limit


HALIFAX, NS – Researchers are calling for the creation of a recreational fishing license and daily fishing limits for Atlantic mackerel in Nova Scotia in order to prevent the depletion of the species’ population.

In a recently released Ecological Action Center report, What’s Happening at the Dock? Nova Scotia Recreational Mackerel Fishery Survey: Key Findings, Rebecca Brushett, Emma Carmichael, Shannon Arnold and Young Shin studied six locations around Halifax in 2018 and 2019 to better understand the recreational mackerel fishery.

He also observed fishing activity and measured the randomly selected fish selected by some study participants.

“Through this project, the EAC sought to generate new knowledge that would help us better understand the full extent of pressures on the Atlantic mackerel stock in Canadian waters,” the report says.

While thousands of people annually fish for mackerel recreationally in Atlantic Canada, the report says “it is not the culprit for the critical depletion of Atlantic mackerel.”

“Sadly, decades of commercial overexploitation of Atlantic mackerel, combined with increasing variability in temperatures, currents and food availability in the oceans, have left this important species at severely depleted levels,” the report said. report, adding that the stock has been in “the critical zone since 2010 and continues to decline.” ”

However, the group noted the lack of monitoring of recreational fishing in Atlantic Canada, which highlighted the lack of a full understanding of the impacts of fishing on the species, so they distributed a nine-question survey for them. recreational fishermen in 2018 and increased the survey to 19 questions in 2019.

EAC: What’s going on at the wharf? Survey of the recreational mackerel fishery in Nova Scotia by Nicole Munro on Scribd

Of the 88 fishermen surveyed, nearly 90 percent are regular fishermen and a third have been practicing it for more than a decade.

“The majority of fishermen have timed their fishing to coincide with the tidal current which they believe would be most beneficial for catching mackerel,” the report read.

“This indicates a good level of knowledge among recreational fishermen on mackerel behavior and fishing techniques to correlate effort when fishing from a dock or shore.”

This also corresponds to fishermen measuring their catch to determine if it was a holder, who must be at least a legal size of 26.8 centimeters, which demonstrates “a high level of awareness and compliance”.

Seventy-one fish were measured for the survey and averaged 28.7 centimeters, but fishermen noted that mackerel have been small in recent years and arrive later in the season.

Based on these results, Brushett, Carmichael, Arnold and Shin made four recommendations for “sustainable access and improved management of recreational fisheries in Atlantic Canada”:

  • Set a daily fishing limit of 20 mackerel per person.
  • Introduce an affordable or free recreational fishing license.
  • Consider introducing a scientific closed season for the fishery during population recovery.
  • Improve the reporting of all mackerel caught in the region.

These recommendations will allow recreational fishermen to continue to enjoy mackerel as a food source and as a traditional pastime, while giving researchers a better understanding of demographic trends for policy development.

“Understanding traditional recreational fishing while gaining the knowledge of fishermen who have been recreational fishing in the same location for decades can help Fisheries and Oceans Canada make better sustainable management decisions,” the report says.

Most of the fishermen interviewed said they would support the introduction of a bag limit, while almost 50 percent said they were in favor of increased monitoring and regulation of the fishery.

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