Horse Mackerel

Trachurus Capensis

Other wise known as the Cape Horse Mackerel, Maasbanker or Carapau in the Portuguese culture, this silver fish is a similar shape to sardines and is of the pelagic family. These fish are known to form large schools in the top waters, while juveniles and migrate down to mid and deep waters until they reach adult hood. Most fish on average reach between 20-30 cm though some have been known to reach 50 cm. In the South African waters, the biggest concentrations can be found between the West Coast and Agulhas Bank.

Horse Mackerel
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Whilst similar to a sardine in shape, the horse mackerel can be easily distinguished by their larger size, bigger eye and distinct sharp ridges near the end of their tail. This fish is most popular in many African countries as it is inexpensive and a valuable source of protein that is sold in the local markets.


The most common way that this fish is prepared in Africa is to be laid out dried and salted for preservations and taste. Moving over to a more European style of cooking one can grill and use a classic garlic butter mix for a delicious end result in +/- 15 minutes of cooking the whole fish.


Horse mackerel is caught using mid water purse seine trawlers which have little to no impact on the bottom of the ocean. As this species of fish is specifically targeted in large schools the by catch tends to be low, but not ever zero. This style of fishing is rated orange on the SASSI list which means catches are closely monitored and regulated by WWF.