An increase in mackerel stocks in the Atlantic Ocean could be good news for those who love to eat the pungent, oily fish.
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
It is a traditional British favourite that is also good for the heart.
Now there could be good news for those who enjoy a plate of fresh mackerel after scientists have found that stocks of the fish are increasing.
The fish were recently removed from the list of so called “ethical” fish to eat due to growing concerns about dwindling populations due to overfishing.
However, experts have now revealed that an increase in spawning by mackerel suggests stocks of the fish are on the rise and are far healthier than previously thought.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, which offers advice on fish catch quotas, reported on Friday that spawning has increased by 30 per cent since 2010.
Their findings echo reports from anglers in Devon who have reported how rising mackerel numbers have attracted other larger predatory fish such as sea bass.
It could mean that in future years there will be more mackerel available on supermarket fish counters.
The ICES said, however, that catches of mackerel should not rise above the levels landed by fishermen this year in order to give the fish populations a chance to recover further.
John Simmonds, vice-chairman of the ICES advisory committee, said: "ICES is trying to produce useful advice while still being precautionary.
“All indications are that the mackerel stock has increased in recent years despite catches in excess of those advised by ICES.”
Mackerel is the UK’s third most valuable fish resource, with £63.8 million worth of the fish being landed during 2012.
The fish is high in omega 3 oils, which are thought to be beneficial for heart health.
However overfishing in the North Atlantic has lead to fears that the stocks were diminishing.
Three years ago a bitter wrangle over the mackerel quotas, known as the “mackerel wars”, broke out between the UK, the European Union, Iceland and the Faroes.