Seafood Watch - Seafood Guide

Mackerel, King

© Duane Raver
SEAFOODRATINGMARKET NAMESLOCATION/CERTIFICATIONHOW CAUGHT/FARMED
Mackerel, Atlantic Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Boston & Common Mackerel, Caballa, Saba U.S. Midwater and Bottom Trawl
Mackerel, Atlantic Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Boston & Common Mackerel, Caballa, Saba Canada Purse Seine
Mackerel, Atlantic Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Boston & Common Mackerel, Caballa, Saba U.S. Purse Seine
Mackerel, King Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Cavalla, Kingfish, Hog U.S. Atlantic, U.S. Gulf of Mexico Wild
Mackerel, Spanish Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Sierra, Spaniard, Sawara U.S. Atlantic, U.S. Gulf of Mexico Wild


King or Spanish Mackerel, Wild, U.S. Gulf of Mexico & U.S. Atlantic

Mackerel matures fairly quickly and produces high numbers of offspring, making it resilient to fishing pressure.

Consumer Note

When used for sushi or sashimi, Spanish mackerel is commonly sold as sawara. It is also incorrectly sold as aji, which is the true sushi name for horse mackerel.

Health Alert

Environmental Defense Fund has issued a consumption advisory for Spanish and king mackerel due to elevated levels of mercury.

Summary

In the southeast U.S., mackerel is a popular catch in recreational and commercial fisheries. King mackerel is caught predominately using hook-and-line methods in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and can be considered a "Best Choice." Spanish mackerel is caught using gillnets, with low habitat impacts and is also a "Best Choice."

Juvenile king and Spanish mackerel are frequently caught as bycatch in the Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawl fisheries; in fact, the total accidental catch of mackerel in the shrimp fishery often surpasses that in the fishery for mackerel.

However, U.S. Spanish and king mackerel fisheries are well managed, and populations are abundant and healthy, resulting in a "Best Choice" recommendation.


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How fish are caught or farmed makes a difference. Fishing boat