*

School Mackerel (2018)

Scomberomorus queenslandicus

  • Lenore Litherland (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Paul Lewis (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Grant Johnson (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)
  • Julian Hughes (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

Toggle content

Summary

School Mackerel occurs in continental shelf waters across the northern and eastern coasts of Australia. One biological stock is sustainable, two are undefined and one is negligible.

Toggle content

Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Queensland Central Eastern Australia ECIFFF, RRFFF Negligible Catch, Effort, Current and historical fishing pressure
Queensland North Eastern Australia ECIFFF, RRFFF Undefined Catch and catch rate, Effort
Queensland South Eastern Australia ECIFFF, RRFFF Sustainable Age structured surplus production model, Catch and catch rate, Effort, Fishery-dependent length frequency
Queensland Northern Australia GOCIFFF Negligible Catch, Effort, Current and historical fishing pressure
ECIFFF
East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)
GOCIFFF
Gulf of Carpentaria Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)
RRFFF
Rocky Reef Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)
Toggle content

Stock Structure

School Mackerel occur in continental shelf waters, often associated with coastal embayments, across the northern and eastern coasts of Australia [Collette and Russo 1984]. Concurrent spawning of fish in geographically dispersed locations may indicate reproductive isolation. In addition, hydrological conditions within embayments may reduce mixing of pelagic eggs and larvae along the coastline. These characteristics result in a complex stock structure for school mackerel [Begg et al. 1997, Begg et al. 1998a,b, Begg and Sellin 1998]. Off the east Australian coast, genetic dissimilarity, restricted movement patterns, concurrent spawning at multiple locations, regional difference in growth and otolith composition indicate the presence of at least two stocks between 16°S and 28°S [Begg et al. 1997, Begg et al. 1998a,b, Begg and Sellin 1998]. East coast stocks are considered to occupy the following latitudinal ranges: North Eastern Australia (19°30’S and 14°00’S); Central Eastern Australia (20°30’S to 19°30’S); and South Eastern Australia (28°00’S to 20°30’S);

Here, the assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Northern Australia, North Eastern Australia, Central Eastern Australia and South Eastern Australia.

Toggle content

Stock Status

Central Eastern Australia

Stock status for the Central Eastern Australia biological stock is reported as Negligible due to historically low catches and because the stock has generally not been subject to targeted fishing.  The Central Eastern Australia stock probably occupies a mixing zone between the Northern and South Eastern Australia stocks. This stock has produced historically low catches (average < 2 t per year for 10 years). This low level of fishing is unlikely to be having a negative impact on the stock.

North Eastern Australia

Total commercial harvest is small (< 2t in 2017). Standardised catch rates for the commercial net fishery are within historical ranges and are above the 10 year average in 2017 [QDAF 2018]. Standardised catch rates for the commercial line fishery fall within historical ranges but are below the 10 year average in 2017 [QDAF 2018]. Harvest levels and catch rates may be influenced by under-reporting in this stock. There is therefore insufficient biomass information available to confidently classify the status of this stock.

Commercial harvest and effort (number of active licences and number of fishing days) are low [QDAF 2018] and although there may be some under-reporting of the commercial harvest, this stock is predominantly targeted by the recreational sector. Recreational fishing pressure is limited by a minimum legal size limit (MLS > size at maturity) and possession limits [QDAF 2018]. Recreational harvest estimates have remained relatively stable between 2000 and 2014 (11 277 fish in 2013–14, 10 709 fish in 2010–11 and 10 155 fish in 2000) [Webley et al. 2015, QDAF, 2018]. Indigenous harvest of this stock is considered to be Negligible. 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 North Eastern Australia biological stock is classified as an undefined stock.

Northern Australia

Stock status for the Northern Australia biological stock is reported as Negligible due to historically low catches across all jurisdictions, and because the stock has generally not been subject to targeted fishing. School Mackerel is broadly distributed across northern Australia with components occurring in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland [Begg et al. 1998a]. However, School Mackerel is not a major component of commercial or recreational landings. The Western Australian Mackerel Managed Fishery predominantly targets Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson) with gear, and in locations, not conducive to catching School Mackerel. The Western Australian commercial and charter boat catches in 2008–17 averaged less than 0.3 tonnes (t) and 0.5 t per annum respectively. School mackerel is not a major component of Western Australia recreational landings, with an estimated retained catch of 4 t (± 1 t se) in 2015–16 [Ryan et al. 2017]. In the Northern Territory the recreational catch is < 1 t [West et al. 2012] and the commercial catch has averaged 50 kg per year over the last 10 years, with a maximum harvest of 239 kg in 2017. In Queensland Gulf of Carpentaria waters there is limited recreational catch and commercial catches have been < 0.3 t for the last three years [QDAF 2018, Webley et al. 2015]. This low level of fishing is unlikely to be having a negative impact on the stock.

South Eastern Australia

This cross-jurisdictional biological stock has components in Queensland and New South Wales. The status presented here for the entire biological stock has been established using evidence from both jurisdictions.

The majority of the fishery occurs in Queensland waters. Biomass estimates derived using an age-structured surplus production model (simpleSA) [Punt et al. 1995] show variable depletion has occurred through the Queensland catch time series, but have not approached the limit reference point [QDAF 2018]. Model trajectories show high variability in recent years, although most trajectories estimate that the current level of exploitable biomass is above 60 per cent of unfished biomass [QDAF 2018]. Standardised catch rates for the Queensland commercial line and net fisheries are within historical ranges, but are somewhat below the 10 year average in 2017 [QDAF 2018].  Fishery-dependent length composition data collected from the Queensland recreational sector indicates a broad range of lengths are present, with similar length composition observed for the previous five years [QDAF 2018]. This indicates stable age composition and recruitment. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

In Queensland the commercial harvest effort (number of active licences and number of fishing days) is below historical highs for the net and line fisheries [QDAF 2018]. The number of licences and fishing days reported in the net fishery showed a marked drop in 2017 compared with the previous two years [QDAF 2018]. In contrast, the number of licences in the line fishery is approaching historical highs and indicates an increase in line fishing effort over the recent four years [QDAF 2018]. The Queensland commercial net harvest has been relatively stable between 2011 and 2016 but was below the 10 year average in 2017 at 42.5 t [QDAF 2018]. The Queensland commercial line harvest is increasing (12.3 t in 2017) after a sustained reduction observed between 2007 and 2013 [QDAF 2018]. Recreational fishing pressure in Queensland is limited by size and possession limits. The Queensland recreational harvest estimate has shown marked variation between 2000 and 2014. The 2013–14 estimate was 8 251 fish, lower than the 2011 estimate (20 197 fish), but higher than the 2000 estimate (4 025 fish) [Webley et al. 2015, QDAF, 2018]. Indigenous harvest of this stock is considered to be negligible.

New South Wales has historically reported very low catches of School Mackerel and the part of stock in this jurisdiction has not been subject to targeted fishing. The New South Wales commercial catch in 2012–17 averaged less than 0.15 t per annum, and School Mackerel is not a major component of recreational landings [West et al. 2015]. 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 South Eastern Australia biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Toggle content

Biology

School Mackerel biology [Begg 1996, Begg 1998, Begg and Hopper 1997, Begg and Sellin 1998, Begg et al. 1998a, Collette and Russo 1984, Munro 1943, QDAF 2018]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
School Mackerel 10 years, 1 180 mm TL, 11.2 kg Females 1–2 years, 60–510 mm TL Males 1–2 years, 410–460 mm TL
Toggle content

Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of School Mackerel
Toggle content

Tables

Fishing methods
Queensland
Commercial
Hook and Line
Net
Charter
Handline
Indigenous
Handline
Recreational
Handline
Management methods
Method Queensland
Charter
Gear restrictions
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Vessel restrictions
Recreational
Gear restrictions
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Active vessels
Queensland
144 in ECIFFF
ECIFFF
East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)
Catch
Queensland
Commercial 78.66t in ECIFFF, RRFFF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 43t (2013–14)
ECIFFF
East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)
RRFFF
Rocky Reef Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)

Queensland – recreational (catch) Estimated from Webley et al. 2015 (22 000 fish retained by QLD residents) and an average weight of 2 kg.

Queensland - Indigenous (Management Methods) In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994, Indigenous fishers are able to use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and bag limits and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations can be obtained through permits

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; and, (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.

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of School Mackerel - note confidential catch not shown
Toggle content

References

  1. Begg, G 1996, Species coexistence, stock structure and fisheries management of School (Scomberomorus queenslandicus) and Spotted mackerel (S. munroi) in Queensland east coast waters. Doctoral Thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
  2. Begg, GA 1998, Reproductive biology of school mackerel (Scomberomorus queenslandicus) and spotted mackerel (S. munroi) in Queensland east-coast waters', Marine and Freshwater Research, 49(3): 261–270.
  3. Begg, GA and Hopper, GA 1997, Feeding patterns of school mackerel (Scomberomorus queenslandicus) and spotted mackerel (S. munroi) in Queensland east-coast waters', Marine and Freshwater Research, 48(7): 565–571.
  4. Begg, GA and Sellin, MJ 1998, Age and growth of school mackerel (Scomberomorus queenslandicus) and spotted mackerel (S. munroi) in Queensland east-coast waters with implications for stock structure, Marine and Freshwater Research, 49(2): 109–120.
  5. Begg, GA, Cameron, DS and Sawynok, W 1997, Movements and stock structure of school mackerel (Scomberomorus queenslandicus) and spotted mackerel (S. munroi) in Australian east-coast waters, Marine and Freshwater Research, 48(4): 295–301.
  6. Begg, GA, Cappo, M, Cameron, DS, Boyle, S, and Sellin, MJ 1998, Stock discrimination of school mackerel, Scomberomorus queenslandicus, and spotted mackerel, Scomberomorus munroi, in coastal waters of eastern Australia by analysis of minor and trace elements in whole otoliths, Fishery Bulletin, 96(4): 653–666.
  7. Begg, GA, Keenan, CP and Sellin, MJ 1998, Genetic variation and stock structure of school mackerel and spotted mackerel in northern Australian waters, Journal of Fish Biology, 53(3): 543–559.
  8. Collette, BB and Russo, JL 1984, Morphology, systematics, and biology of the Spanish mackerels (Scomberomorus, Scombridae), Fishery Bulletin, 82: 545–689.
  9. Munro, ISR 1943, Revision of Australian species of Scomberomorus, Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, vol. 12, pp. 65–95.
  10. Punt, AE, Butterworth, DS and Penney, AJ 1995, Stock assessment and risk analysis for the South Atlantic population of albacore Thunnus alalunga using an age structured production model’ South African Journal of Marine Science, 16(1): 287–310.
  11. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries. 19–20 June 2018, Brisbane.
  12. Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM and 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. 
  13. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quin, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013-2014. Fisheries Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
  14. West, LD, Lyle, JM, Matthews, SR, Stark, KE and Steffe, AS 2012, Survey of Recreational Fishing in the Northern Territory, 2009–.10. Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries. Darwin
  15. West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Ochwada-Doyle, FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013–14, Fisheries final report series 149, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.