The mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is a species highly valued commercially due to its meat of strong flavor which is quite consumed worldwide. However, if you want to eat this delicious fish you should learn about it first
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The mackerels are perciform, aerodynamic fish and very fast swimmers that are characterized by growing quickly: They double their size between childhood and the age of two or three years.
Their body is quite thin with two separate dorsal fins, short pectoral fins, and an anal fin followed by seven finlets. Their snout is long and pointed, their eyes are large and covered by an adipose eyelid, while their teeth are small, sharp and conical. As for their scales, they are also small, excepting those immediately after the head and around the pectoral fins. We invite you to read our article the anatomy of fish to learn more about this topic.
In terms of their body color it has a characteristic blue color that turns white in the belly area. They measure between 25 and 45 cm in length and can reach 4.5 kg of weight.
This species is found mainly in the temperate waters of the Mediterranean Sea, in the Black Sea and in the North Atlantic Ocean where it is extremely common and they are observed in large sandbanks in the pelagic zone up to about 200 m. During the summer months it is common to see them near the coasts on the surface of the ocean, while in the winter they migrate to deeper waters and further south, in search of warmer temperatures.
In terms of diet, it should be noted that the young specimens are omnivorous and eat organic debris and debris found on the coasts inhabited by humans. Then they become predators and feed on crustaceans, mollusks, sardines, and herring.
The spawning of the mackerel takes place during the night and not once, but eight or ten times. They leave between two hundred thousand and four hundred thousand eggs of 1 millimeter, which fall slowly until they reach the bottom where they open six days later. After the laying, the adult mackerels are dispersed over the sea surface in search of food to replace the lost energy, attacking, sometimes the banks of sardines and anchovies.
The Mackerel has a huge commercial importance for many Atlantic fisheries, which catch it with purse seines, trawls, gill nets and trammel nets. Its optimal fishing season occurs between February and May, while its global annual catch is usually above 1.5 million tons. The United Kingdom and Norway provide the largest amount of Atlantic mackerel, with annual catches reaching more than 166,000 tons and 160,000 tons respectively.
Despite its commercial condition, in 2011 the IUCN estimated that mackerel is in a state of least concern due to its abundance and wide range. However, the same organization has recommended a careful monitoring of the population of this species, especially since the effects of climate change may affect them. In the North-East Atlantic, several countries impose minimum landing sizes. In the European Union, this size is 18 cm, Ukraine 15 cm, Turkey 20 cm and Romania 23 cm.
Let´s watch how they catch them
The Nutritional Value of The Mackerel
Mackerel has mainly red meat that has a strong flavor which many people love. They can be sold fresh, frozen, smoked, salted, filleted or as fillets. Unlike tuna , mackerel has a few content of mercury and can be eaten at least twice a week according to the guidelines of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
To know more about the nutritional benefits of this species, we can indicate that a portion of 100 grams provides 10 grams of fat. Mackerel is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins of group B (B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12) and fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E, which accumulate in their viscera (liver, mainly) and in their muscles. Regarding the mineral content of this species, the presence of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iodine and iron stands out.
Types of Mackerels
Chub mackerel (Starling Scomber japonicas)
This is a fish from the Pacific and Atlantic and its commercial importance is remarkable.
Blue Mackerel (Scomber australasicus)
It is found on the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, in northern China and Japan, eastern Mexico, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
Island Mackerel (Rastrelliger faughni)
It inhabits the western region of the Pacific Ocean.
Short mackerel (Rastrelliger brachysoma)
It lives in tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans.