(U.S. Midwater and Bottom Trawl)
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.
Boston Mackerel, Caballa, Common Mackerel, Saba
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.
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."