|Fish of the mackerel family have slender, streamlined and spindleshaped bodies, with a row of finlets between the second dorsal fin and tail and between the anal fin and tail. The first dorsal fin has strong spiny rays. Mackerel are found in the East Atlantic from the Canary Islands in the south to the Kola coast and Iceland in the north. They also occur in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic seas. There are forty-eight species of mackerel.
Six have been registered in Norwegian waters. The mackerel on the stamp is an Atlantic mackerel, Scomber scombrus. It is most common along the south and west coasts of Norway, less so north of Trondheim.
Atlantic mackerel can reach a length of 60 cm and weigh as much as 3.5 kg. Their muscular bodies are perfectly shaped for fast swimming. They are easy to recognise with their distinctive body pattern of dark blue bands on a green background and silvery white underbelly. These fish form large shoals and are continually on the move. In the summer, mackerel are seen in the upper water layers, but they overwinter in deeper waters, sometimes as deep as 200-250 metres.
Mackerel feed mainly on planktonic crustaceans and fish spawn. In the summer they move down the coast to graze. The Atlantic mackerel inhabits temperate waters and eats very little during the cold part of the year. Mackerel that are caught in the spring are therefore lean
In Norway, mackerel fisheries are particularly important along the south and south-west coasts. Poached, fried or smoked, mackerel is a tasty fish and with its high content of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids it is also a very healthy food.