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Concept: Mackerel


Microplastics are highly bioavailable to marine organisms, either through direct ingestion, or indirectly by trophic transfer from contaminated prey. The latter has been observed for low-trophic level organisms in laboratory conditions, yet empirical evidence in high trophic-level taxa is lacking. In natura studies face difficulties when dealing with contamination and differentiating between directly and indirectly ingested microplastics. The ethical constraints of subjecting large organisms, such as marine mammals, to laboratory investigations hinder the resolution of these limitations. Here, these issues were resolved by analysing sub-samples of scat from captive grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and whole digestive tracts of the wild-caught Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) they are fed upon. An enzymatic digestion protocol was employed to remove excess organic material and facilitate visual detection of synthetic particles without damaging them. Polymer type was confirmed using Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Extensive contamination control measures were implemented throughout. Approximately half of scat subsamples (48%; n = 15) and a third of fish (32%; n = 10) contained 1-4 microplastics. Particles were mainly black, clear, red and blue in colour. Mean lengths were 1.5 mm and 2 mm in scats and fish respectively. Ethylene propylene was the most frequently detected polymer type in both. Our findings suggest trophic transfer represents an indirect, yet potentially major, pathway of microplastic ingestion for any species whose feeding ecology involves the consumption of whole prey, including humans.

Concepts: Digestive system, Digestion, Apex predator, Pinniped, Gray Seal, Scombridae, Atlantic mackerel, Mackerel


Didymozoids found in the muscles of marine fish are almost always damaged because they are usually found after being sliced. Therefore, identifying muscle-parasitizing didymozoids is difficult because of the difficulty in collecting non-damaged worms and observing their organs as key points for morphological identification. Moreover, muscle-parasitizing didymozoids are not easily found because they parasitize at the trunk muscles. Therefore, muscle-parasitizing didymozoid classification has not progressed because there are few opportunities to detect them. Our recent report was the first to describe the usefulness of sequencing analysis for discrimination among muscle-parasitizing didymozoids. Recently, we found a didymozoid in the trunk muscle of a chub mackerel Scomber japonicus. The present study genetically compares the present isolate with other muscle-parasitizing didymozoids. The present isolate differs markedly from the previously unidentified didymozoid from an Atlantic mackerel S. scombrus by phylogenetic analysis of 18S rDNA. It also differs from other muscle-parasitizing didymozoids from other host species based on phylogenetic analyses of 18S, 28S rDNAs, and coxI loci. These results suggest that sequencing analysis is useful for the discrimination of muscle-parasitizing didymozoids. Combining the present data with earlier data for sequencing analysis, muscle-parasitizing didymozoids from seven marine fish species were classified as seven species. We proposed appellations for six distinct muscle-parasitizing didymozoids for future analysis: sweetlips fish type from Diagramma pictum and Plectorhinchus cinctus, red sea bream type from Pagrus major, flying fish type from Cypselurus heterurus, Atlantic mackerel type from Scomber scombrus, chub mackerel type from S. japonicus, and purple rockcod type from Epinephelus cyanopodus.

Concepts: Biology, Sparidae, Scombridae, Atlantic mackerel, Mackerel, Scomber, Atlantic Spanish mackerel, Chub mackerel


Histamine fish poisoning, also known as scombroid poisoning, is the most common cause of ichythyotoxicosis worldwide and results from the ingestion of histamine-contaminated fish in the Scombroidae and Scomberesocidae families, including mackerel, bonito, albacore, and skipjack. This disease was first described in 1799 in Britain and re-emerged in the medical literature in the 1950s when outbreaks were reported in Japan. The symptoms associated with histamine fish poisoning are similar to that of an allergic reaction. In fact, such histamine-induced reactions are often misdiagnosed as IgE-mediated fish allergy. Indeed, histamine fish poisoning is still an underrecognized disease. In this review, we discuss the epidemiology, pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of scombroid disease. Because more than 80 % of fish consumed in the USA is now imported from other countries, the disease is intimately linked with the global fish trade (National Marine Fisheries Service, 2012). Preventing future scombroid outbreaks will require that fishermen, public health officials, restaurant workers, and medical professionals work together to devise international safety standards and increase awareness of the disease. The implications of scombroid poisoning go far beyond that of fish and have broader implications for the important issues of food safety.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Epidemiology, Allergy, Food, Scombridae, Mackerel, Scombroid food poisoning


The aim of this study was to assess the effect of tow duration on catch per unit of swept area (CPUE), trawl catch performance, and the proportion of the species caught in a trawl survey. Longer tows are expected to have a greater probability of catching species. An average of 26 species were caught in the first 30 minutes, whereas only about one additional species was caught in the next 30 minutes in longer tows. The shorter tows involved a decrement in catch weight for 11 of the 12 target species sampled, demonstrating that tow duration did affect catch per unit of swept area CPUE. The shorter tows were associated with a significant reduction of the overall CPUE in terms of weight of the main target species and of the total catch (circa 60%). The same strong reduction of around 70% was found in particular for European hake (Merluccius merluccius) and surmullet (Mullus spp) and 50% for Nephrops (Nephrops norvegicus). The shorter tows were less efficient in catching large-sized hake, surmullet, Nephrops, Atlantic horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus), and poor cod (Trisopterus minutus), even though the difference was significant only for Nephrops. Regardless of the p-value statistic, these findings suggest that the continuity of survey time series would be severely impaired by changing tow duration. Further work is required to explore a way to reduce tow duration without reducing CPUE.

Concepts: Statistics, Mediterranean Sea, Cod, Gadidae, Atlantic horse mackerel, Mackerel, Trachurus, Merlucciidae


Scombroid poisoning is a frequent cause of admission in emergency department. In everyday clinical practice, it can be difficult to discriminate between scombroid syndrome and fish allergy. The aim of this review is to provide the clinician some instruments to make a correct differential diagnosis.

Concepts: Histamine, Differential diagnosis, Mackerel, Scombroid food poisoning


Short-term variability in condition factor: relative condition factor Kn; biochemical condition: RNA:DNA and protein content; and instantaneous growth rates were determined in estuarine and coastal fish. Dicentrarchus labrax, Solea senegalensis and Pomatoschistus microps were sampled in the Tejo estuary, while Trachurus trachurus was sampled in an adjacent shallow coastal area. Variation of condition indices was more frequent at the week scale (sampling periods with fortnight intervals) than at the daily scale (consecutive days in each sampling period) in all species. Water temperature was correlated with biochemical indices, while salinity showed no effect, evidencing the influence of environmental short-term variation (temperature) on biochemical condition in natural populations. Yet, decreasing individual variability in fish condition was observed along the sampled weeks, resulting in a more homogeneous condition of populations, particularly for T. trachurus likely due to a more stable coastal environment. Biochemical indices proved to be sensitive to short-term environmental variability, despite species-specific responses.

Concepts: Water, Estuary, Period, Fisheries, Evidence, Coastal geography, Brackish water, Mackerel


The present research focused on the quality of canned fish. Its primary objective was the quality enhancement of canned Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) by including an aqueous Bifurcaria bifurcata extract in the packing medium. Various alga extract concentrations were tested and compared to a control without alga extract. After a 3-month canned storage, the cans were opened, and quality changes in fish white muscle were analyzed.

Concepts: Present, Muscle, Scombridae, Atlantic mackerel, Mackerel, Scomber, Atlantic Spanish mackerel


The selectivity of fishing gears with respect to fish species and size is important, both for fisheries management and fishing operations. Purse seining is an efficient, environmentally friendly fish capture methodology generally targeting single species aggregations, but once a fish school has been selected and surrounded by the seine, there is no selections for individual size, species or catch quantity. A common practice for evaluating the catch is to haul the seine to a point where physical samples or inspections of catch composition can be made. The release process is called slipping and may lead to mortality in the released fish. The objective of this study was to simulate a crowding situation and investigate how the behaviour was affected in response to increased fish density, decreased oxygen levels, or a combination of the two, and to see if there is a behavioural measure that can be used to set safe crowding limits. The experiment was conducted on Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) held in net pens. The volume of the net pen was reduced to increase fish density, and a tarpaulin bag was wrapped around the pen to reduce the oxygen levels. Oxygen, fish density and space occupancy was monitored during the experiment, and the behavioural reactions was assessed using an imaging sonar. The main result was that the schooling function, i.e. the response to a predator model, was significantly reduced during crowding but not in response to hypoxia. There were some indications of a slow recovery of the function post-treatment. We conclude that crowding causes behavioural responses that occur before densities that induce fish mortality. Consequently, there is a behavioural response that could be used as a proxy for setting safe crowding limits.

Concepts: Density, Fish, Fishing, Overfishing, Scombridae, Atlantic mackerel, Mackerel, Fishing net


Effects of serine protease inhibitor from squid ovary (SOSPI) and egg white powder (EWP) on gel properties of surimi from Indian mackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta) were investigated. Breaking force of gel increased when SOSPI levels increased up to 2%. However, EWP showed higher efficiency in increasing breaking force of resulting surimi gel. Nevertheless, SOSPI (0.5-3%) had no effect on deformation. Trichloroacetic acid-soluble peptide content in surimi gel decreased when the levels of SOSPI and EWP increased (p < .05). This was coincidental with more retained myosin heavy chain. Water holding capacity was increased with the addition of these protein additives, but resulted in lower whiteness. Microstructure study revealed that surimi gel added with 2% EWP was denser and had higher connectivity as compared to that containing 2% SOSPI. The SOSPI had no negative effect on sensory attributes and could serve as the alternative protein additive to improve gel strength of surimi.

Concepts: Protein, Myosin, Serine protease, Protease, Scombridae, Mackerel, Indian mackerel


Biomass reconstructions to pre-assessment periods for commercially important and exploitable fish species are important tools for understanding long-term processes and fluctuation on stock and ecosystem level. For some stocks only fisheries statistics and fishery dependent data are available, for periods before surveys were conducted. The methods for the backward extension of the analytical assessment of biomass for years for which only total catch volumes are available were developed and tested in this paper. Two of the approaches developed apply the concept of the surplus production rate (SPR), which is shown to be stock density dependent if stock dynamics is governed by classical stock-production models. The other approach used a modified form of the Schaefer production model that allows for backward biomass estimation. The performance of the methods was tested on the Arctic cod and North Sea herring stocks, for which analytical biomass estimates extend back to the late 1940s. Next, the methods were applied to extend biomass estimates of the North-east Atlantic mackerel from the 1970s (analytical biomass estimates available) to the 1950s, for which only total catch volumes were available. For comparison with other methods which employs a constant SPR estimated as an average of the observed values, was also applied. The analyses showed that the performance of the methods is stock and data specific; the methods that work well for one stock may fail for the others. The constant SPR method is not recommended in those cases when the SPR is relatively high and the catch volumes in the reconstructed period are low.

Concepts: Density, Cod, Norway, Overfishing, Mackerel, Surplus value, Surplus product, The Surplus