Horse mackerel

The horse mackerel is a silver-coloured shoaling fish found in northern waters from the North Sea to the Norwegian Sea off Nord-Trøndelag. The season is mainly from August to October.


In the North-east Atlantic, the horse
mackerel is distributed from Africa
to approximately 66ºN, including the
Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the
strait of Skagerrak.


Maximum 40 cm and 1.6 kg

Other names

Latin: Trachurus trachurus
Norwegian: Hestmakrell
English: Atlantic horse mackerel
French: Chinchard
German: Bastardmakrele
Danish: Hestemakrel
Spanish: Jurel
Finnish: Piikkimakrilli
Greek: Savrídi
Italian: Suro
Icelandic: Brynstirtla
Japanese: アジ
Dutch: Horsmakreel
Portuguese: Carapau
Polish: Ostrobok
Swedish: Taggmakrill
Turkish: Istavrit
Russian: Обыкновенная ставрида
Chinese: 竹荚鱼
Arabic: الاسقمري الحصان 􀇯 الماكريل الحصان

Nutritional content per 100 g horse mackerel (edible portion):

Energy: 974 kJ / 232 kcal 

Protein: 18.7 g
Fat: 15.8 g
Saturated fatty acids: 4.5 g
Mono unsaturated fatty acids: 6 g
Poly unsaturated fatty acids: 3.2 g
Omega-3: 0 g
Cholesterol: 52 mg

Vitamin E: 1.2 mg
Folate: 7 μg
Riboflavin: 0.15 mg
Vitamin B12: 6 μg

Iron: 1.4 mg
Selenium: 0.1 mg


The horse mackerel is characterised by the plate-shaped scales along the lateral line. It has barbs and an obvious dark spot on the back edge of the gill cover. The horse mackerel is a thermophilic, pelagic shoaling fi sh which stays between depths of 0 to 100 m. In the winter, the horse mackerel lives on bottom-dwelling animals, and in the summer it eats plankton, fry, herring, small sprats and octopus. In the North-east Atlantic, the horse mackerel is widespread from Africa to the North Sea. In the European fi shing areas, there are three stocks of horse mackerel which have been named after their spawning areas: the western stock, the southern stock and the North Sea stock. The southern stock spawns off Spain and Portugal, the western spawns west of Ireland and Great Britain, and the North sea stock spawns in the southern North Sea. When the horse mackerel has spawned, it wanders into the Norwegian Sea and the North sea to find food.


The Norwegian fi shery for horse mackerel takes place in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, with the high season from August to October. Usual fishing gear is purse seines or pelagic trawls.


Each year, Norwegian and international research provides a basis for advice on sustainable catch. Norway then conducts negotiations on quotas with other countries that fish for the same stocks. Based on this, the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries allocates the Norwegian share to Norwegian fi shers. It is the authorities who grant a licence to everyone who participates in the industry, and provisions regarding quota allocation and conduct of the fi shery are determined through annual regulations for each individual type of fish (control regulations). The horse mackerel fi shery in the Norwegian zone in practice is not subject to a quota. The ICES makes stock assessments for horse mackerel in the North Sea and the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits. The stock is considered low, but relatively stable.

Food safety/quality control

The Norwegian seafood industry is subject to stringent requirements in order to ensure food safety. The control system consists of several bodies which jointly examine and monitor compliance with the requirements in all stages of the production chain. The bodies which supervise food are the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Norwegian National Institute
of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES), the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries and the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

Nutritional content

Horse mackerel are an oily fi sh and are rich in marine omega-3 fatty acids. The fat content of the horse mackerel depends on the season. It is especially rich in:

  • Protein, which builds and maintains all the cells in the body.
  • Marine omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent cardiovascular disease and are important for the development of the brain.
  • Vitamin B12, which is important for the body's production of new cells, including red blood cells. Vitamin B12 can contribute to preventing anaemia.


Horse mackerel are primarily exported from Norway frozen or fresh. They are prepared in the same manner as sardines and are sold fresh or smoked in Southern Europe. They are also sold to a great extent in tins, and they are used as industrial fi sh in meal or oil production.

You can read more about horse mackerel here:

The information has been obtained from:

Pethon, P. (1998). Aschehougs store fiskebok. 4th edition Oslo: Aschehoug.