Mackerel is a fast-swimming fish. In the summer it appears in large coastal shoals as well as in the Skagerrak, the North Sea and the South Norwegian Sea.
In European waters, it is managed as one stock—northeast Atlantic mackerel—which is divided into three spawning groups: North Sea mackerel, which spawns in the North Sea and Skagerrak (May to July); western mackerel, which spawns west of Ireland and the British Isles (March to July); and southern mackerel, which spawns off t he coast of Spain and Portugal (February to May). The fish spawn in the surface layers of the sea, and the larvae grow to 8 inches in a few months.
The scope of the spawning stock is calculated by its annual egg production, measured in international, scientific surveys throughout the spawning season (February to July). During this time, the numbers of eggs produced by individual females are also measured.
After spawning, the western and southern mackerel migrate to the Norwegian Sea, and later to the North Sea and Skagerrak where they mix with the North Sea mackerel. The mackerel does not have a swim bladder and has to swim constantly in order not to sink. It can live up to 25 years.
Fishing takes place during the summer months. Vessel sizes vary from small boats that use nets and trolling lines on the coast, to large, seagoing boats that rely on purse seine nets. Norwegian fishing vessels catch between 140,000 and 160,000 tons of mackerel each year.
For Norwegian mackerel, the premium catch period is September to November when the Mackerel swims from the feeding areas in The Norwegian Sea and back to the spawning areas. This is when the fat content is the highest, making the mackerel especially tasty and packed with healthy EPA, DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids. This explains the international popularity of Norwegian mackerel, which is caught when the fish is of the highest quality.
Norway mainly uses purse seine when fishing for mackerel. This distinguishes Norway from other exporters and contributes to the high quality of mackerel from Norway. Trolling line is also used along the coast and pelagic trawl at sea.
Mackerel is especially rich in:
• Protein that builds and maintains every cell in the body
• Omega-3 fatty acids that prevent and reduce the development of cardiovascular diseases, and which are important building blocks in the brain
• Vitamin D, which is necessary to get the right balance of calcium in the body to maintain and strengthen the bones
• Selenium, an important element in an enzyme that fights harmful chemical processes in the body
More nutritional data can be found at www.nifes.no/en/prosjekt/seafood-data