Maine Seafood Guide - Mackerel


species description | season | status | regulatory authority |
harvest method | recreational harvest | health benefits & risks | 

buying & preparing | brands | certifications | links 

Species Description
Atlantic mackerel Scomber scombrus


Atlantic mackerel are small (12 to 18 inches) schooling fish, iridescent gray to greenish blue with dark, wavy stripes along their backs and whitish bellies. Atlantic mackerel are fish of the open sea, ranging widely and traveling in dense schools from Labrador to North Carolina.

Late spring through fall, when mackerel enter estuaries and harbors in search of food, although these migrations vary from year to year. They can be seen rippling the water surface, attracting sea birds, porpoise, whales, and other predators.
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Status (see the About page for definitions)
Uncertain. Although this stock is currently listed as not subject to overfishing and not overfished, the most recent stock assessment conducted for Atlantic mackerel (2010) could not determine the overfishing or overfished status (more from
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Regulatory Authority
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
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Harvest Method
Mid-water trawl, hook and line.
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Recreational Harvest
Mackerel are fun and easy to catch and a great target for young and new anglers. There is no size or number limit.
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Health Benefits & Risks
Atlantic mackerel contains more fat and calories than other fish, but is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel is also a great source of vitamin D and a good source of selenium. Mackerel are low in mercury.
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Buying & Preparing
Mackerel are delicious but the fresher the better. They don’t keep well because they have such a high oil content. Mackerel are good fried, baked, grilled, and smoked. Mackerel is known as saba in sushi restaurants, but don’t assume it’s Atlantic mackerel unless specified.
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Companies, Brands, and Labels
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Certifications & Verifications
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species description | season | status | harvest method | recreational harvest
health benefits & risks | 
buying & preparing | brands certifications | links