Striped mullet is the largest and most abundant mullet species in the Gulf of Mexico. The common names, jumping mullet and jumping jack, relate to the tendency of these strong fish to make multiple leaps out of the water. Striped mullet are able to tolerate a wide salinity range from full strength seawater to freshwater, which enables them to inhabit marine environments, estuaries, lagoons and freshwater rivers.

Mullet is a schooling fish that migrates in fall and winter to spawn offshore, forming mass spawning migrations. Fishing efforts target the spawning aggregates that result from these migrations. The fish is harvested for human consumption, for use as bait, as well as for their roe (fish eggs), most of which is exported to Asia.

Striped mullet flesh is somewhat oily, and thus is best prepared smoked, baked, or broiled as opposed to fried. Striped mullet is also used in Chinese medicine.

 

Also known as:

Striped mullet, black mullet, flathead mullet, jumping mullet, jumping jack, popeye mullet, Lisa

Availability:

Striped mullet are available year-round, although the greatest amount of fish is harvested between October and January in the U.S.

Product forms:

Striped mullet are marketed whole, collared, gutted or in fillets. The fish is sold fresh, frozen, dried, smoked or salted; roe is sold fresh or smoked

Shopping tips:

Avoid buying mullet that has a fishy or ammonia aroma. Fresh products should smell like the sea. The flesh should spring back after being pressed.

Substitutions:

Use striped mullet instead of snapper, bass, white fish or hake

Recipes:

Roasted wild-caught striped mullet with peasant meat juices

Wild-caught striped mullet stew with pappardelle

Striped mullet harvest: Striped mullet is an important commercial fish in the southeastern United States especially in North Carolina and Florida. During the fall spawning season, the commercial fishery targets fish containing roe (fish eggs). Throughout the rest of the year mullet are fished commercially for human consumption and bait. More.

Conservation notes:

Striped mullet produce a large number of offspring, allowing the fish to remain abundant and withstand fishing pressure. More.
Last updated: October 2008

 

Striped mullet harvest

Striped mullet occur worldwide between latitudes 51º N and 42º S. In the southeastern United States, striped mullet is an important commerical fish, especially in North Carolina and Florida. During the fall spawning season, the commercial fishery targets fish containing roe (fish eggs). Throughout the rest of the year mullet are fished commercially for human consumption (particularly the west coast of Florida) and bait.

Harvest method

In the U.S., strike nets, gill nets (wrap-around and set nets), cast nets and seine nets are used to catch mullet.

Fishery management

Management of the striped mullet fishery in the U.S. is overseen by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) as well as Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) in North Carolina. A special Striped Mullet Technical Task Force (TTF) was formed to create the fishery management plan for the Gulf States. Fish management plans use scientific research and fishery information to develop the best ways to sustain the striped mullet population so it remains a viable fishery in the future, while also considering the ecological, social and economic aspects of the fishery.

Conservation Notes

Striped mullet produce a large number of offspring, allowing the fish to remain abundant and withstand fishing pressure. Management plans have either banned or implemented heavy restrictions on certain types of fishing gear (e.g. set gill nets), thus reducing the destructive impacts of fishing. Methods used to harvest striped mullet minimize bycatch and impacts on the ocean floor. These management decisions promote sustainability of the fishery and minimize environmental impact, which combine to make striped mullet an ocean-friendly seafood choice.