Andalusian mackerel and frigate mackerel. Further information on the Specific Designations
The fishing of mackerel, frigate mackerel and tuna on the Andalusian coast goes back to the Phoenicians and the Tartessians. The Moors, after observing the migratory habits of these fish species, invented a revolutionary fishing method based on a gigantic maze of nets and cables. It proved to be so effective that it has survived to our time more or less unaltered: we are referring to the almadraba.
Along with fisheries, the fish processing industry flourished in Roman times. A large number of fish-salting factories thrived along the Andalusian coastline and a number of towns were founded around them. The well-known ruins of Baelo Claudia (Tarifa), with its still-visible pools are an example of this. Mackerel was also used for making garum, the most popular sauce in Roman cuisine.
The many references in documents from Antiquity are evidence of the popularity of these Andalusian products even in that period. For example, in 5th century BC, the Athenian comedian Eupolis spoke of the salted tuna and mackerel that came from Gades (the name used at that time for Cadiz).
From the 18th century onwards, large-scale production developed, culminating in the creation of modern preserved fish factories, a driving force of the area’s economy.
Nowadays, Andalucía’s preserved food industry still offers the quality that makes it stand out. They are small and medium-sized family businesses that have maintained an artisan style of processing, using species from the Andalusian coast.
Mackerel and Frigate Mackerel are blue fish. They are vey healthy and have a high nutritional value, perfect for those who want a healthy and balanced Mediterranean-style diet.
They are high in proteins and vitamins, low in fat and low in carbohydrates. They contain unsaturated fats, like omega 3, which may contribute to preventing cancer and cardiovascular diseases.Highly recommended for pregnant women and children.
The mackerel (Scomber japonicus or Scomber colias) belongs to the Scombridae family. It has a long, fusiform body, with a sharp-pointed bill and large eyes. Its entire body is covered in scales. Usually it measures from 20 to 30 cm, although it can grow up to 50 cm. Mackerel fillets are a greyish white colour, have a compact texture and the aroma and flavour of blue fish.
Frigate mackerel (Auxis rochei and Auxis thazard) are subspecies of tuna. It has a strong, sleek body, a short bill and two dorsal fins that are far apart from each other. Its skin is hard, strong and, except from the front part of its body and on the lateral line, scale-free. It is bluish-black on their dorsal side and silvery on the flanks and belly. It can grow up to a length of 50 cm and weigh 1.5 kg. Canutera is the name given to the specimens weighing less than 600 g. Its fillets are pink, although canutera fillets are greyish-white; they have a compact texture and a very distinct aroma and flavour that are different from the other tuna species.
Certain municipalities located along the Andalusian coastline have been declared Specific Designations. These can be found in the provinces of Almeria (Adra, Carboneras, Garrucha and Roquetas de Mar), Granada (Motril and Almuñécar), Malaga (Estepona, Fuengirola, Malaga, Marbella and Vélez-Malaga), Huelva (Ayamonte, Cartaya, Huelva, Isla Cristina, Lepe, Palos de la Frontera and Punta Umbría) and Cadiz (Algeciras, Barbate, Cadiz, Chipiona, Conil, La Línea, Puerto de Santa María, Rota, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Tarifa).
The production process of Andalusian mackerel and frigate mackerel is completely traditional. Firstly, the head and entrails are removed; the fish is then washed to clean away blood and mucus. Then, it is cooked in boiling salted water. Next, the fish is skinned manually, a special factor within our production process since no chemicals, additives or preservatives are used; in this way, the fish retains its natural characteristics and a top-quality product is delivered to customers.
Once the skinned scale-free fish fillets are ready, they are tinned only with olive or sunflower oil (200 and 300 cc. jars and tins in compliance with European Standard EN-200901) and their shelf life is very long.
The Andalusian mackerel and Andalusian frigate mackerel designations were recognised in the year 2003 and are protected by a single Regulatory Council that has two main functions:
- To ascertain, by means of strict controls, the product’s quality and identity, and that it has been prepared manually (pursuant to the Procedures and Quality Guidelines drawn up by the Regulatory Council in compliance with standard EN 45011.
- To publicise the high quality of these preserves.
The mackerel and frigate mackerel preserves that bear the stamp of the Regulatory Council on their jars and tins are products of guaranteed quality; they are also backed by the Andalusian Regional Government’s Certified Quality Mark. They are unique, since they are the only designations of their kind in Spain.
At present, the Regulatory Council includes 6 preserved fish companies. Production, around 7,500 tons per year, amounts to a total of more than 30 million Euros (data from 2003).
Legislation and Regulations
Specification (Link to file in spanish: pliego.pdf)
ORDER APA/241/2005, of the 2nd of February, which ratifies the Regulation of the Andalusian frigate mackerel and mackerel Specific Designations and their Regulatory Council (Spanish Official State Gazette, BOE , no. 36 of 11-02-05) (Link to file in spanish: orden241_2005.pdf)
Publication of request and summary in the Official Journal of the European Union C 177/18 of 12-07-08 (Link to file in spanish: doue177_18.pdf)
European Protection by Commission Regulation (EC) no. 286/2009 of 07-04-09 (Official Journal of the European Union L 94/15 of 08-04-09) (Link to file in spanish: rce286_2009.pdf)