Seafood Watch - Seafood Guide

Mackerel, Atlantic

© Scandinavian Fishing Yearbook/www.scandfish.com
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


Atlantic Mackerel, Trawl or Purse Seine, Canada or U.S.

A well-managed and highly resilient species, Atlantic mackerel from Canada and the U.S. caught with purse seines is a "Best Choice." U.S. Atlantic mackerel caught with midwater trawls is a "Good Alternative" because of possible impacts to seafloor habitats.

Consumer Note

Atlantic mackerel is an oily, dark fish that is usually served grilled or fried. It is sold fresh, frozen, smoked or salted whole; and as fillets, steaks and canned. Mackerel is known as saba when prepared for sushi.

Summary

Atlantic mackerel is a schooling species found along the east and west coasts of the North Atlantic. Mackerel plays an important role in the ecosystem, providing food for a variety of larger fish, such as sharks, bluefin tuna, and marine mammals.

Atlantic mackerel reproduce quickly and are resilient to fishing. However, the status of mackerel populations in U.S. and Canadian waters is uncertain.

Most U.S. mackerel is caught in midwater trawls, which are relatively low in bycatch but do accidentally capture vulnerable species including marine mammals and river herring. Also, despite their name, these midwater trawls may contact the ocean bottom and damage seafloor habitats.

There is a small U.S. purse seine fishery fishing in the northwest Atlantic. This fishery is well managed and closes once it reaches 95 percent of the total allowable catch, which has been set conservatively while scientists try to learn more about its stock status.

The Canadian fishery uses purse seines, a fishing method that doesn't impact seafloor habitats. Though there are no bycatch data from the Canadian fishery, purse seines used on schooling species like mackerel are usually highly selective. At-risk species - such as marine mammals or sea turtles - caught in a purse seine fishery are often released unharmed.

Consumers should look for purse-seine caught Atlantic mackerel from Canada and the U.S. as the "Best Choice," while U.S. Atlantic mackerel is a "Good Alternative."


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