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Atlantic mackerel

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General

Mackerel-like fish

Mackerel-like (Scrombodei) from a subspecies of the Perciformes, the biggest order of fish. Mackerel (Atlantic-, horse mackerel etc), tuna, swordfish and barracudas all fall among the mackerel-like fish. Globally it is a very popular fish and forms an important source of food and income for many people. Mackerel are pelagic fish that live in large schools. While swimming in large schools, mackerel-like fish confuse their predators with the silver-like brilliance from their scales. Island mackerel is the smallest with 2o cm, the largest is the bluefin tuna that can reach a size of over 5 meters.

Atlantic mackerel

Atlantic mackerel is a migratory predator that can cover large distances, mostly in large groups. This species can be found only in the northern Atlantic Ocean. In the winter, this species migrates to colder waters and does not eat anything during this period. In the spring, this species migrates back into warmer coastal waters to forage and reproduce. After reproduction, the mackerel hunt for herring, European sprat, and smelt in small groups. During the migratory period, Atlantic mackerel form large groups which can measure up to 100 m in depth and 200 m in width. The Atlantic mackerel can reach maximum lengths of 60 cm and can weigh 3 kilograms.  

 

 

Atlantic mackerel

Scomber scombrus
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Purse seines, Handlines and pole-lines (hand operated)

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

The mackerel stock in the north-east Atlantic Ocean is within biologically safe limits. The fishing pressure is currently higher than the precautionary level. This is mainly because international catch agreements are lacking.

Fishing with hand-operatedHand operated lines and pole lines:
A collective name for pole lines, jigs and troll lines. Hand lines and pole lines are used on a small scale most of the time and are relatively selective. unwanted by-catch have a high survival rate because they can be thrown back immediately.  
handlines and [purse seines] is very selective and therefore little bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
occurs. The seabed is not damaged.

The mackerel fishery is managed by size limits, catch-limits and (in the North Sea) closed fishing seasons. Discards and discarding less valuable fish (slipping and high-grading) are regulated with the European Union discard ban. However, to regulate the total mackerel catches in this area, international catch agreements must to be formulated.

Fish in season 

Fish is in season when the spawning period has ended, as the quality is then at its best.

 

Atlantic mackerel

Scomber scombrus
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Midwater otter trawl, Trawls, Gillnets

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

The mackerel stock in the north-east Atlantic Ocean is within biologically safe limits. The fishing pressure is currently higher than the precautionary level. This is mainly because international catch agreements are lacking.

Fishing with pelagic-trawlspelagic trawl:
Pelagic trawls is a fishing technique whereby a funnel-shaped trawl is pulled through the water column. Because the trawl does not drag over the bottom, there is no bottom disturbance.
has relativley low bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
rates and the seabed is not disturbed. Fishing with gillnetsGillnets:
A fishing technique whereby passing fish get caught in the meshes with their gills. The net stands vertically on the bottom or hangs on buoys in the water column. The by-catch of species such as porpoises and dolphins is a problem related to gillnets.
does  have bycatch, mainly sea mammals and seabirds.

The mackerel fishery is managed by size limits, catch-limitCatch limit:
The maximum amount of fish of a species caught per country, per year. 
s and (in the North Sea) closed fishing seasons. DiscardsDiscards:
Unwanted by-catch, which is thrown back because there is no quota, the market price is too low, or the fish is below the legal minimum landing size. Discards can be alive or dead.
and discarding less valuable fish (slipping and high-grading) are regulated with the European Union discard ban. However, to regulate the total mackerel catches in this area, international catch agreements must to be formulated.

Fish in season 

Fish is in season when the spawning period has ended, as the quality is then at its best.

Atlantic mackerel

Scomber scombrus
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, central east (FAO 34)

Farming- / Catch method

Midwater otter trawl

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

There are no stock-assessmentStock assessment:
Based on data about fish catch of fishermen and samples conducted with research vessels, a stock assessment describes the current and former status of a fishery stock. The size of the stock will be measured and a prediction will be made about how the stock will respond to management measures.
s being done for mackerel in the central east Atlantic Ocean, which results in an unknown state of the mackerel stock and fishery.

Fishing with pelagic-trawls has low bycatch rates, however more than purse-seines. Sometimes fisheries are ‘slipping’ their catch: part of or the entire catch is thrown back because the size or fat content of the fish is not optimal. Mackerel is a species that swims higher in the water column en therefore fishing for mackerel generally does not harm the seabed.

Only a few countries in this area have a management plan on the fisheries.

Fish in season 

Fish is in season when the spawning period has ended, as the quality is then at its best.

 

Atlantic mackerel

Scomber scombrus
Origin

Mediterranean (FAO 37)

Farming- / Catch method

Midwater otter trawl, Trawls, Purse seines

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

There are no stock-assessmentStock assessment:
Based on data about fish catch of fishermen and samples conducted with research vessels, a stock assessment describes the current and former status of a fishery stock. The size of the stock will be measured and a prediction will be made about how the stock will respond to management measures.
available for Atlantic Mackerel in the Mediterranean Sea. Leading to a lack of information on the  status of the mackerel stock and the impact of the fisheries.

Fishing with pelagic-trawlspelagic trawl:
Pelagic trawls is a fishing technique whereby a funnel-shaped trawl is pulled through the water column. Because the trawl does not drag over the bottom, there is no bottom disturbance.
has low bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
rates, however more than purse-seinesPurse seines:
A ring net in which the net is circulated around a school of fish. Then the net is closed and taken in. This is also called 'purse seine'. 
. Sometimes fisheries are ‘slipping’ their catch: part of or the entire catch is thrown back because the size or fat content of the fish is not optimal. Mackerel is a species that swims higher in the water column en therefore fishing for mackerel generally does not harm the seabed.

There is no management of mackerel fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea.

Fish in season 

Fish in season when the spawning period has ended, as the quality is then at its best.

Atlantic mackerel

Scomber scombrus
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, central east (FAO 34)

Farming- / Catch method

Purse seines

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

There are no [stock assessments] being done for mackerel in the central east Atlantic Ocean, which results in an unknown state of the mackerel stock and fishery.

[Purse seining] is a selective fishery with [little bycatch]. Sometimes there is ‘slipping’: catch is discarded for wrong size or fat content. Mackerel lives high in the [water column], so there is no contact with the ocean floor when fishing.

Only a few countries in this area are doing management on the fisheries, and it is not effective.

 

ASC label

Fish with the ASC label is farmed in a sustainable manner.

MSC label

Fish with the MSC label is caught sustainably.

Good fish

This fish is not being overfished or is being responsibly farmed, with minimal impact on the environment.

Second choice

This fish is a second choice. There are still some improvements to be made in this fishery or fish farm.

Avoid

Do not buy this fish. It's being overfished or the way it's farmed or caught has a negative impact on the environment.

By-catch

This fish is unwillingly caught while fishing for a different species. They are underused and should be eaten more.

GlobalG.A.P.

GlobalG.A.P. certified farms are doing a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. A few species with this label are getting a better score on the VISwijzer.

Organic

Organic standards are the strictest when it comes to fish feed. They also require certain measures for animal well-being.

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