Spanish Mackerel (2018)
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Spanish Mackerel is widely distributed across several fisheries in Commonwealth, WA, NT, Qld and NSW waters. All five stocks are sustainable.
Stock Status Overview
|Queensland||East Coast||ECSMF||Sustainable||Biomass, fishing mortality, catch, effort, catch rate, length and age structure, TAC|
|Queensland||Gulf of Carpentaria||GOCIFFF, GOCLF, GOCDFFTF||Sustainable||Catch, effort, catch rate, fishing mortality, length and age structure|
- East Coast Spanish Mackerel Fishery (QLD)
- Gulf of Carpentaria Developmental Fin Fish Trawl Fishery (QLD)
- Gulf of Carpentaria Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)
- Gulf of Carpentaria Line Fishery (QLD)
Genetic evidence indicates that there are three biological stocks of Spanish Mackerel across northern Australia [Moore et al. 2003]; however, evidence from otolith microchemistry, parasite analysis and limited adult movement (at scales greater than 100 km) indicates that there are likely to be a number of smaller biological stocks with limited interaction [Buckworth et al. 2007, Lester et al. 2001, Moore et al. 2003]. Each jurisdiction is likely to have multiple biological stocks within its boundaries; however, the difficulty in obtaining relevant biological, and catch and effort, information to assess each stock individually has meant that not all assessments are undertaken at the biological stock level. Those that are, are based on the populations that receive the highest harvest rates; their status can be assumed to be representative of the highest level of exploitation that occurs on any population within each management unit or jurisdiction.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Torres Strait Spanish Mackerel Fishery (Commonwealth) and East Coast (Queensland and New South Wales); management unit level—Mackerel Managed Fishery (Western Australia), Gulf of Carpentaria (Queensland); and jurisdictional level—Northern Territory.
This cross-jurisdictional stock has components in Queensland and New South Wales [Ovenden and Street 2007]. Stock status for the entire East Coast biological stock has been established using combined information from these jurisdictions.
A recent stock assessment [O’Neill et al. 2018] estimated that spawning biomass in 2015–16 was at 40 per cent (range 30 to 50 per cent) of the unfished (1911) level. This is above the limit reference point of 25–30 per cent recommended in the assessment.
The majority of the commercial line fisheries in both jurisdictions (273 t in 2016–17) is within Queensland waters (98 per cent) [QDAF 2018] with a smaller catch during late summer–autumn in northern New South Wales waters [Stewart et al. 2015]. In 2016–17 47 per cent of the total commercial catch was taken from a very small area off Townsville (North Queensland) during a few months [QDAF 2018], indicating high localised fishing pressure. Recreational catch, estimated at 231 t in 2013–14 [Webley et al. 2015, Stewart et al. 2015, West et al. 2015], is similar to the commercial catch and is spread along the extent of the stock range.
In Queensland, a total allowable catch (TAC) and individual transferable quotas (ITQs), introduced in 2004 for the commercial fishery, substantially reduced participation to the lowest levels recorded in 25 years. Fishing effort has varied since 2004 with up to 13 500 tender vessel days, and was at 8 700 days in 2016―17 [QDAF 2018]. Standardised catch rates, using data up to 2015–16, reduced by up to 50 per cent from 1990, and up to 65 per cent on the main spawning grounds [O’Neill et al. 2018]. In 2016–17 they have increased marginally (around 12 per cent) on the main spawning grounds [QDAF 2018]. The nominal catch rates in New South Wales vary but show no overall trends during the past 20 years [Stewart et al. 2015]. The fish length and age frequencies in Queensland show annually variable, but continuous, recruitment into the fishery [QDAF 2018]. A strong year class of two-year-olds in 2014–15 comprised around 60 per cent of catch in Queensland waters and is still dominating as four-year-olds in 2016–17. The stock is not considered to be recruitment impaired.
Fishing pressure is concentrated on a very small area of important spawning grounds off the coast of Townsville [Tobin et al. 2013, Tobin et al. 2014]. Fishing pressure is near a point equivalent to fully-fished [O’Neill et al. 2018] with fishing mortality rates between 2011–12 and 2015–16 at or below the limit reference point FMSY [O’Neill et al. 2018]. In 2016–17 total landings for Queensland and New South Wales were 505 t which is well below the MSY calculated in O’Neill et al. 2018. This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, the East Coast biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.
Gulf of Carpentaria
The Gulf of Carpentaria (Queensland) management unit has a line and net component—the Gulf of Carpentaria Line Fishery and the Gulf of Carpentaria Inshore Fin Fish Fishery, respectively. The recreational fishery for this management unit is considered minor [Webley et al. 2015, QDAF 2018] and the Indigenous catch considered negligible. Nominal catch rates for the line fishery have been relatively variable over the recent four years after an increasing trend since the late 1990s. Nominal catch rates for the net fishery have decreased by 50 per cent over the last three years and are the lowest recorded in the recent 10 year period. Length and age frequencies from routine monitoring of commercial line catches since 2007 indicate relatively consistent recruitment and length and age compositions in the fishery, with the majority of catches since 2007 comprising fish between 2–6 years of age [QDAF 2018]. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.
Total commercial catch is within historical harvest levels (248 t in 2017) with a majority taken by the line fishery (83 per cent in 2017). Catch share between the line and net fishery has been relatively stable over the recent eight year period. Participation in the line fishery has had a general decreasing trend since the mid-1990s and, at 19 active licences in 2017, is at a new historical low since the introduction of compulsory logbooks in the late 1990s. Fishing effort has also decreased over this period from around 1 500 primary vessel days to 622 days in 2016. The effort reported in 2017, however, increased by over 70 per cent from the previous year to 1 065 fishing days. Participation in the net fishery has shown an increasing trend since the late 1980s with 2017 fishing effort around the highest recorded with 692 fishing days from 27 active licences. Shifts in regional trends of catch are noted from around 2010, when a reduction in the catch on the southern fishing grounds (around Mornington Island and Lost City) as well the far northern Mapoon region, timed with increases in the catch in the north-central region (around Aurukun and Weipa) regions. 2017 catches were concentrated in this north-central region comprising 74 per cent of the catch. An estimate of fishing mortality for 2017 based on fishery-dependent monitoring data of the line fishery is less than natural mortality for this species [QDAF 2018]. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Gulf of Carpentaria (Queensland) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.
Spanish Mackerel biology [McPherson 1992, McPherson 1993, QDAFF 2013]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Spanish Mackerel||26 years, 2400 mm FL||~2 years, 800 mm FL|
|Hook and Line|
|Individual transferable quota|
|Total allowable catch|
|Commercial||267.57t in ECSMF, 248.13t in GOCDFFTF, GOCLF|
|Recreational||211 t (in 2013–14)|
- East Coast Spanish Mackerel Fishery (QLD)
- Gulf of Carpentaria Developmental Fin Fish Trawl Fishery (QLD)
- Gulf of Carpentaria Line Fishery (QLD)
Commonwealth and Queensland – The reporting period for the Commonwealth (Torres Strait Spanish Mackerel Fishery) and Queensland (East coast [Queensland]) is the 2016–17 financial year.
Commonwealth – Commercial (active vessels) Total number of TIB licences; this is not an indicator of licence activity.
Commonwealth – Recreational The Australian Government does not manage recreational fishing, including charter fishing, in Commonwealth waters. Recreational and charter fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under its management regulations.
Commonwealth – Indigenous (a) The Australian Government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters, with the exception of the Torres Strait. In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters. In the Torres Strait, both commercial and non-commercial Indigenous fishing is managed by the Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) through the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (Commonwealth); the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Queensland); and the Torres Strait Regional Authority. The PZJA also manages non-Indigenous commercial fishing in the Torres Strait; and (b) Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by Indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.
Western Australia – Recreational (catch) Western Australian boat-based recreational catch from 1 May 2015–30 April 2016. Shore-based recreational catches are largely unknown.
Western Australia – Recreational (Management Methods) Western Australian boat-based recreational licence required.
Western Australia – Charter (catch) is an estimate based on numbers of fish caught multiplied by their average weight.
Northern Territory — Charter (management methods) In the Northern Territory, charter operators are regulated through the same management methods as the recreational sector but are subject to additional limits on license and passenger numbers.
Northern Territory – Indigenous (management methods) The Fisheries Act 1988 (NT), specifies that “…without derogating from any other law in force in the Territory, nothing in a provision of this Act or an instrument of a judicial or administrative character made under it limits the right of Aboriginals who have traditionally used the resources of an area of land or water in a traditional manner from continuing to use those resources in that area in that manner”.
Queensland – Recreational (catch) Survey of Queensland residents only from August 2013–October 2014 [Webley et al. 2015].
Queensland – Indigenous Under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers in Queensland are entitled to use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and possession limits, and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits.
New South Wales – Recreational (Catch) Estimated from West et al. 2015 (5 283 fish retained by NSW residents) and average weight [NSWDPI Unpublished data].
New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) (a) Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement—allows an Indigenous fisher in New South Wales to take in excess of a recreational bag limit in certain circumstances; for example, if they are doing so to provide fish to other community members who cannot harvest for themselves; (b) The Aboriginal cultural fishing authority is the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority; (c) In cases where the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) applies fishing activity can be undertaken by the person holding native title in line with S.211 of that Act, which provides for fishing activities for the purpose of satisfying their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs. In managing the resource where native title has been formally recognised, the native title holders are engaged with to ensure their native title rights are respected and inform management of the State’s fisheries resources.
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- Buckworth, R, Newman, S, Ovenden, J, Lester, R and McPherson, G 2007, The stock structure of northern and western Australian Spanish Mackerel, Fishery report 88, final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project 1998/159, Fisheries Group, Northern Territory Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development, Darwin.
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- Mackie, M, Gaughan, DJ and Buckworth, RC 2003, Stock assessment of narrow-barred Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson) in Western Australia, final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 1999/151, Western Australian Department of Fisheries, Perth.
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- Northern Territory Government (NTG) 2018, Status of Key Northern Territory Fish Stocks Report 2016, Northern Territory Government, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Fishery Report No. 119.
- O’Neill, MF and Tobin, A (unpublished), Torres Strait Spanish mackerel stock assessment II, 2015. Torres Strait AFMA Project Number: RR2014/0823, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government.
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- Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 2013, Stock status of Queensland’s fisheries resources 2012, Queensland DAFF, Brisbane.
- Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM, Wise, BS 2017, State-wide survey of boat based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16, Fisheries Research Report 287, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
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- Stewart, J, Hegarty, A, Young, C, Fowler, AM and Craig, J 2015, Status of Fisheries Resources in NSW 2013–14, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Mosman: 391pp.
- Tobin A, Currey L and Simpfendorfer, C 2013, Informing the vulnerability of species to spawning aggregation fishing using commercial catch data, Fisheries Research, 143: 47–56.
- Tobin, A, Heupel, M, Simpfendorfer, C, Buckley, S, Thurstan, R and Pandolfi, J 2014, Utilising innovative technology to better understand Spanish Mackerel spawning aggregations and the protection offered by Marine Protected Areas, Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, James Cook University, Townsville.
- Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A, Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
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