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The SWHFA was originally set-up to represent the many mackerel handline boats fishing in SW England and in 2000, the Association was one of the first to receive accreditation from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for the SW Handline Mackerel Fishery.

Today, our members now fish for mackerel almost 12-months of the year. In the Spring a fleet of 20-25 boats of mostly single-handed boats between 15 -25ft in length fish from Newlyn, Mousehole and the surrounding Coves of Penberth and Lamorna. These boats tend to fish at dawn and dusk using lines of 25 or 30 hooks baited only with brightly coloured feathers or plastic tubing.

During the Summer the fishery moves onto St Ives on the North Cornish Coast where a fleet of upto 40 boats from St Ives, Hayle, Sennen and Portreath handline for mackerel until the Autumn.

From October to January a fleet of fast, modern vessels ranging from 30 to 40ft in length handline for mackerel from Looe with two or three crew per boat. These boats often have to travel upto 50 miles a day to search for fish.