10% of the world’s total fish catch

Horse mackerel can grow up to 16 inches (40 cm) and has a large presence in the Adriatic Sea, wider Mediterranean area and in the North Atlantic, including the Norwegian and North Sea. Fishing season for the horse mackerel is very long and takes place from spring to autumn.


English: horse mackerel

Italian: suro, sugarello, scombro bastardo, sorello

Croatian: šarun, šnjur, širun

Slovene: šur, šnjur

French: cagnassum, chinchard, saurel, severeau

Spanish: jurel, chicharro

Portuguese: carapau, chicharro

Greek: savri

Turkish: istavrit

German: Bastardmakrele, Holzmakrele, Stöcker, Suri

Z is for protection

The old Croatian name for horse mackerel is trnobok (thornside), and there is no better word to describe its main distinguishing feature. It has a jagged line of hardened scales along both sides that roughly form the letter z. The scales are stiff and jagged to the touch, as if intended as lateral protection against enemies.

Two cousins

Ichthyologists (fish experts) will point out that the Adriatic Sea is home to two related populations of horse mackerel. In addition to Trachurus trachurus, there is also Trachurus mediterraneus, which has, according to my layman’s observations, a more pronounced yellowish tail and slightly shorter pectoral fins.

Life in depths

Both types of horse mackerel stay in depths ranging from 60 to 200 metres, above the mud or sand bottom, where they look for small crustaceans and free-floating eggs of other pelagic fish, such as anchovies, sprats or silversides. 

Great reproductive ability

Horse mackerel reaches sexual maturity in the second to third year of life, but after entering biological adulthood, its spawning period is quite eventful: it lasts longer than other species and spawning is typically serial and consecutive.

Its great reproductive ability is one of the reasons behind the numerous horse mackerel population not only in the Adriatic Sea, but also in the wider Mediterranean area and in the North Atlantic, including the Norwegian and North Sea.

Feeding farm animals

According to some sources, the annual horse mackerel catch represents as much as 10% of the world’s total fish catch. Unfortunately, the catch is largely processed into bone meal and fish oil for the needs of farm animals and an increasingly pervasive mariculture.


Fish soup with horse mackerel and rice recipe – Šjora, in the Blue book, page 130

Oven-baked horse mackerel with lemon – Li mun, in the Blue book, page 160