Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

The a[euro][approximately]Razor Gang' Is in Town

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

The a[euro][approximately]Razor Gang' Is in Town

Article excerpt

Byline: Rick O'Ferrall www.FromtheFlybridge.com

NO IT'S not another government expenditure reduction committee, it's the big mackerel with their laser-sharp teeth. The spotted and barred mackerel are all over the inshore reefs at the moment, and they're about the only action that can be guaranteed these days.

Even though the big mackerel are seemingly everywhere, they've been unfairly relegated to the naughty corner in some anglers' eyes after a handful of larger specimens have been suspected of being the source of a few recent cases of ciguatera poisoning.

As many readers would know, ciguatera is an odourless, flavourless coral toxin that becomes increasingly concentrated in the pelagic predators that feed on the smaller fish around coral reefs. Spanish mackerel have a reputation for being a source of concentration of this nasty nerve toxin, and whenever a few cases of poisoning get some publicity, then the public won't buy or eat the otherwise delicious mackerel for a while, which probably explains why the commercial price of these fish is so low at present. However, it's only the very large fish that tend to be a source of ciguatera poisoning, and only then on rare occasions. Besides, with the average mackerel caught here weighing in at about 8kg, that's considerably below the 10kg "safe" limit used as a guide for anglers wanting to put any of these fish on the table.

The toxin occurrence in these fish is actually not really any worse than in some of the other highly prized reef fish such as large coral trout. So it's something of a shame that the mackerel are getting a bit of a bad rap, because a restaurateur friend of mine assured me that Spanish mackerel in a light beer batter makes the classiest fish and chips you could ever hope to eat. I'm inclined to second the motion, although I tend to grill most of the stuff that goes on our table - not because I'm on any sort of health kick, but quite simply because classic beer batter is a lot harder to make than many people think, and I have to admit that mine is rubbish. …

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