February Fish of the Month: Mackerel
Your seafood choices can have a big impact on the health of our oceans and lakes—so make sure it’s a positive one! Every month, Shedd shares a sustainable seafood dish that’s good for you and good for our planet. February’s pick is domestic mackerel. You’ll find mackerel on Shedd’s best choice list for sustainable seafood. Although mackerel is caught off the U.S. Atlantic coast, it is underappreciated by the American palate. Mackerel is a striking fish with a robust flavor, but it is not as pungent as sardines or herring. Some culinary aficionados compare it to tuna because of its oilier, omega-3-rich texture.
Mackerel is a sustainable seafood choice because it has healthy, well-managed populations. Overfishing occurs when too many fish are taken out of the ocean without giving them a chance to reproduce. When thinking about seafood choices, it’s important to look for fish that reproduce early and amply, making them less vulnerable to fishing pressures. Compared to a long-lived, slow-to-mature fish like the orange roughy (which can live up to 150 years), mackerel grows to maturity in less than five years.
Mackerel is also an excellent example of proper fishery management in the United States. For years, mackerel fisheries have enlisted size requirements to confirm maturity and total catch limits. Catch limits are set by scientists to calculate how many fish can be caught per year to ensure healthy future populations of mackerel. Each fishing boat receives a permit based on that number to prevent overfishing of a species.
For other fisheries around the U.S. and the world, however, strong management can be easier said than done. Can you remember the last time your family agreed on a meal? Now imagine if you were the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and had to agree on how many fish are annually caught off America’s coastlines. The remarkable thing is that in in 2012, the U.S. government did just that. This is due to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (the primary law that governs commercial fishing), which includes a provision requiring all U.S. fisheries to set total catch limits by May 2012.
The United States will be the first country in the world to set nationwide total catch limits on the fish they manage. All this hard work could add up to a sustainable future for our marine ecosystems. Now, not just mackerel has a better outlook for the future. Try our roasted mackerel with rutabaga-pesto stuffing to support sustainable U.S. fisheries!
Roasted Mackerel with Rutabaga-Pesto Stuffing
2 cups rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1/3 cup pesto sauce4 green onions, finely chopped
2 whole mackerel, cleaned and pin boned
Salt and pepper
2 onions, sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
1. Cook rutabaga cubes in boiling water for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well.
2. Using a hand masher, mash them into lump-free purée.
3. Add pesto to the rutabaga, stir in green onions and taste to check the seasoning.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wipe the inside of the fish clean with a paper towel.
3. Rub the fish, inside and out, with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Rub onions with olive oil and lay evenly on baking dish.
5. Lay fish on onions and place lemon slices and thyme inside fish.
6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes on the highest shelf, until fish is flaky.
7. Serve warm with rutabaga stuffing and roasted onions.
Posted by Brook Havlik, conservation