Fisheries & Aquaculture News

Canada Announces a Mackerel Bait Fishery

Atlantic mackerel is an integral part of the ocean ecosystem and essential to the prosperity of fisheries across the region. The Government of Canada is taking decisive action to rebuild this stock, which has faced important declines over the last few years, so that the fisheries which rely upon on Atlantic mackerel can continue to thrive for generations to come.

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honorable Diane Lebouthillier, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Mike Kelloway, announced the opening of a 470 tonne (t) Atlantic mackerel personal-use bait fishery this spring along with the continued closure of the Atlantic mackerel commercial fishery in Atlantic Canada and Quebec for the 2024 season.

The 470t Atlantic mackerel 2024 bait fishery will be released in two equal parts. By releasing the quota in this way, harvesters from different regions will have equitable access to Atlantic mackerel as the stock migrates through the waters of Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

Fish caught under a bait license are intended for personal-use and are not permitted to be sold, traded or bartered. This Atlantic mackerel bait fishery will help license holders supply their other fisheries with bait without jeopardizing the ongoing rebuilding of this stock.

The department remains firmly optimistic that the Atlantic mackerel stock can rebuild and remains committed to supporting the future re-opening of the Atlantic mackerel commercial fishery.

“For generations, harvesters have always been our eyes and ears at sea, and our government recognizes all their expertise. The announcement is really about striking the right balance between protecting the resource, equipping harvesters with the bait they need, and obtaining recent data from the ground, which can only better inform next steps in this fishery so vital for our coastal communities,” stated the Honorable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“I know that the closure of the commercial mackerel fishery hasn’t been easy for harvesters who rely on this stock, including in my own community of Cape Breton—Canso, in Nova Scotia. I’m hopeful that the opening of this bait fishery, albeit modest, sends an optimistic signal to our fishing communities that stock recovery is moving in the right direction,” added Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Quick Facts

  • Food, social and ceremonial fisheries for First Nation communities will remain open for Atlantic mackerel. The recreational fishery will also remain open, applying the daily limit of 20 mackerel that was put into regulations in 2021.
  • A 20t bluefin tuna bait exemption and a 20t scientific sampling allocation will also remain in place for 2024.
  • An Atlantic mackerel rebuilding plan has been developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in consultation with stakeholders and Indigenous partners, and will be posted on DFO’s website in the coming weeks. Its objectives are to:
    • promote a positive stock growth trajectory over a 2-year projection period;
    • improve monitoring;
    • enhance measures to reduce post-discard mortality;
    • enhance scientific knowledge and Indigenous knowledge;
    • increase bilateral cooperation and coordination with the US;
    • and provide fishing opportunities while rebuilding the stock.
  • DFO is continuing to work with harvesters throughout Atlantic Canada and Quebec in 2024 to collect data for the ongoing mackerel assessment, ensuring that we have the best science possible to inform future decisions.

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