An icon of mackerel fishery

Facts & figures

4 fishermen per boat
Peterhead, Scotland (UK)


Though the Scottish village of Peterhead might be cute and picturesque, the impressive Chris Andra docked there sure isn’t. This blue-white trawler is over 229-foot-long, making it one of the largest boats of the Scottish fishing fleet. An icon in the North Sea - mackerel fishery.

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Fishing for mackerel hasn’t come naturally. In 2010, Scotland, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe island had an argument over the fish quota, endangering the fish data. The countries made new arrangements which lead to a MSC-certification in 2016. Unfortunately the certificate was retracted in 2019: the fishing data was not healthy anymore. Because we at Fish Tales only work with MSC- and ASC-certified fisheries, we pauses working with the fishermen from Petershead till they get recertified. The products we still sell from this fishery were produced in the period when they were still certified.

Fishing method

The mackerel fishermen work with cone-shaped nets which they tie to the back of their boats and pull through the water. Because mackerels swim in compact schools, this method is very selective.

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Not only that, the nets of the trawler fishermen have been designed in such a way that the small, young mackerels can swim right through. Also the fishermen don’t fish all year round; they only ship out on the first and last months of the year. Keeping the fish population stable all year long.

Blue town

Peterhead can be found on the northeast shore of Scotland, just above Aberdeen. Many of the 19,000 inhabitants work in the fishing industry, either at sea or at the fish markets. The town’s nickname is Blue Toon (blue town). No-one really knows why, but legend has it that the name comes from the colour of the knitted socks and jumpers of the local fishermen.

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Mackerels eat a lot. They can eat so much, sometimes they don’t even close their mouth to eat: young mackerels swim with their mouth open through clouds of plankton and filter little animals out the water with their gills. The upside of all the eating that they do, is that their meat is tender, fatty and is filled with omega 3 fatty acids. Healthy and tasty. The North Sea mackerel is also perfect to smoke.

‘Go out to sea and searching for fish – that’s in our blood’

Mackerel fisherman William is the eighth generation of a large family that has been fishing for fair mackerel for centuries. ‘It’s in our blood,’ he says. Of course, he loves to eat fish. Smoked mackerel is his favourite - in soup, on a sandwich, or like his co-workers: with tomato salsa and garlic.

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