A cooler full of fresh mackerel and pollack sit on a boat deck in Sedgwick, Aug. 26, 2014. Credit: Ashley L. Conti

The East Coast harvest of an economically important species of small fish will be scaled back for the rest of the year.

Fishermen catch millions of pounds of Atlantic mackerel from Maine to Virginia every year, as the fish is widely used as food. However, federal rules state that the mackerel fishery must be restricted once fishermen approach their limit for the catch of river herring and shad, which are other species of small fish.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 95 percent of the catch cap has been exhausted. That means mackerel fishing vessels will be prohibited from fishing for more than 20,000 pounds of mackerel per trip from Tuesday to the end of the year.

The majority of Atlantic mackerel comes to shore in Massachusetts.