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Blue Mackerel

Standard Names: Spanish Mackerel, Blue Mackerel (previously known as 'Slimy Mackerel'), School Mackerel, Grey Mackerel, Spotted Mackerel

Forest & Bird (NZ) rank Blue Mackerel E (RED- AVOID) in their Best Fish Guide.

Mackerel has been identified as a sustainable choice by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

Schooling nature makes Mackerel's potentially vulnerable to overfishing, but target with purse seine and line means little bycatch results from the fishery. Limited scientific research on Mackerel stocks is of concern.

Further information about Government stock assessments and Australia's Spanish Mackerel fisheries is available HERE

The various Mackerel's are open water marine fish, which swim in large schools in temperate and tropical waters word-wide. They are fished mostly in the North of Australia by troll methods, line fisheries or purse seine.

The most popular are the 'Spanish Mackerels', which form an important commercial fishery, especially in QLD.

They are available year round, with supplies of Spanish Mackerel peaking in September and October.

Government Stock Assessment
Overfishing Biomass AMCS Listing Accreditations
Blue Mackerel NSW Moderately Fished - -
Commonwealth No Overfishing Not Overfished - -
Grey Mackerel QLD Uncertain Say No -
Spotted Mackerel NSW Fully Fished - -
QLD Sustainably Fished - -
Spanish Mackerel Commonwealth No Overfishing Not Overfished Better Choice -
NSW Fully Fished -
NT Sustainable -
QLD Fully Fished -
WA Sustainable -
Frigate Mackerel NSW Undefined - -
  What do these terms mean?

Preparation & Cooking:

Mackerels differ in flesh colour from the dark red of Blue Mackerel to the near white flesh of Spanish Mackerel. They are all oily fish with a strong flavour.

They are served as either steaks or cutlets, which are well suited to grilling and BBQ'ing. A slight char will compliment the meat, with an acid such as vinegar, lemon juice or even tomato providing a foil to its oily nature. To bake, wrap in foil with vegetables and aromatics.

Mackerel are also popular fish to smoke, cure or pickle.

Sustainable Alternatives:

ALTERNATIVE 1: Australian Sardine

Australian Sardine

AUSTRALIAN SARDINES are strong flavoured oily fish similar to Mackerel. When BBQ'ing or Grilling, try several large whole sardines in place of a Mackerel steak.


Giant Trevally

TREVALLY have a strong flavour but are less oily than Mackerel. They are a good alternative when Pan Frying.

ALTERNATIVE 3: Australian Salmon

GFBF Australian Salmon

The juicy, oily, darker flesh of Australian Salmon makes it an appropriate substitute for Mackerel in most preparations. Try BBQ'ing cutlets or fillets, baking whole, or smoking.

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