Atlantic mackerel was a popular fish during colonial times, but today is more popular in Europe because of its oily, rich flavour. This mackerel can be identified by its whimsical colours and patterns: an iridescent blue-green and wavy black bars accent its back. Unfortunately, this colouring fades quickly after being caught. They grow up to 16.5 inches (about 42 cm) and 2.2 pounds (1 kg). In North America, they range from North Carolina to Newfoundland, and can also be found throughout Europe.
Atlantic mackerel have distinctive colouring and a slender, streamlined, spindle-shaped body that narrows considerably towards their tail, which is strongly forked. Mackerel is considered one of the more healthful fish because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Its strong, rich flavour and high oil content make it perfect for a beach barbeque.
Atlantic Mackerel can live to the age of 20 years old and are able to reproduce by the time they reach age two to three. There are two major spawning groups of Atlantic mackerel in the western Atlantic: a southern group spawns primarily in the Mid-Atlantic Bight from April to May, and a northern group spawns in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in June and July. Both groups typically spawn within 10 to 30 miles (16 to 48km) of shore. Depending on their size, females can have between 285 000 and almost 2 million eggs. They release their eggs in batches, between five and seven times throughout the spawning season. Eggs generally float in the surface water and hatch in four to 7.5 days, depending on water temperature. They feed heavily on crustaceans such as rill and shrip, but also eat squid and some fish.
This fishery uses a variety of artisanal hook-and-line methods to catch coastal pelagic fish such as tuna, marlin, swordfish, mahi mahi, wahoo (ono) and others. A pole and line with live bait scattered into the water is used to catch feeding skipjack tuna. Trolling with lures and lines, and handlines with lures, lines and bait bags are used to target larger fish such as bigeye tuna, swordfish, mahi mahi and wahoo.
Pelagic Mid-Water Trawl
This fishery uses a large cone-shaped net that is towed at the appropriate level in the water column to catch schools of mackerel. As the net is towed at low speed, hydrodynamic forces push two "doors" outwards opening the mouth of the net and capturing fish in its path.