Spotted Mackerel

Scomberomorus munroi

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

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia Negligible
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Stock Structure

Spotted Mackerel occurs in continental shelf waters along Australia's western and northern coast and along the eastern coast, to central New South Wales1,2. In northern and western Australian waters the delineation of stocks is not clear. Results from an otolith microchemistry study indicate that fish from Gove and Joseph Bonaparte Gulf may belong to separate stocks2. Therefore, a Northern Australian biological stock and a Western Australian biological stock are assumed here. In Eastern Australian waters, Spotted Mackerel comprise a single stock (confirmed through genetic analysis, otolith microchemistry and tagging studies) that is genetically isolated from fish in the northern Arafura Sea1,2.

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

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Stock Status

Western Australia

Stock status for the Western Australian biological stock is reported as negligible due to low catches in this jurisdiction. In Western Australia, only the Western Australian Mackerel Managed Fishery is licenced to land mackerel species and in 2015 the catch of Spotted Mackerel was 8 kg. The Western Australian Mackerel Managed Fishery predominantly targets Spanish Mackerel with gear, and in locations, not conducive to catching Spotted Mackerel. In the past 10 years, the average total commercial catch from this biological stock was 186 kg.

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Spotted Mackerel biology1,2,4,7

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Spotted Mackerel 8 years; 1 230 mm  TL  Females: 1–2 years; 600 mm  TL Males: 1–2 years; 520 mm  TL
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Spotted Mackerel

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Fishing methods
Western Australia

a Queensland - Indigenous 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
b New South Wales - Indigenous Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement allows an Aboriginal 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 themselves.
c New South Wales - Indigenous Aboriginal cultural fishing authority - the authority that indigenous persons can apply for to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1)(c1), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority. 

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • The majority of fishing for Spotted Mackerel uses trolled lines. This method has almost no impact on the habitats where it is used. Commercial coastal gillnets used in Queensland waters have minimal impact on the environment and are quite selective in their harvest12. In general, gillnet methods used by commercial fishers in nearshore waters result in minimal bycatch relative to the harvest of the target species. Mesh size regulations help to ensure that target species caught by these methods are within an appropriate size range. Commercial coastal gillnets are not used in New South Wales waters.
  • Line-based fishing methods in nearshore waters can result in the capture and release of non-target species and undersized fish5,10. The rates of survival for released line caught Spotted Mackerel are unquantified and discard mortality could be substantial.
  • Discarded fishing tackle from fishers poses a risk to seabirds and marine life, which can become entangled in or injured by discarded gear13. Programs to safely dispose of unwanted fishing tackle are in place in south-east Queensland and New South Wales13.
  • Commercial gillnets can occasionally interact with threatened, endangered and protected species. The impact on populations of these species is unquantified. In most jurisdictions, commercial fishers are required to report all interactions with protected species.
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Environmental effects on Spotted Mackerel

  • Juvenile Spotted Mackerel are dependent on nearshore waters for survival and may be sensitive to declines in water quality resulting from land based influences14
  • Spotted Mackerel prey on schooling baitfish. Climate change impacts on baitfish in Queensland waters are poorly understood14.
  • Changes in coastal currents and water temperatures associated with climate change have the potential to alter fish behaviour (for example, spawning activity and migration) and to affect the dispersal of eggs and larvae, which may influence the subsequent recruitment of Spotted Mackerel into fisheries14–16.
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  1. 1 Begg, G, Keenan, C and Sellin, M 1998, Genetic variation and stock structure of school mackerel and spotted mackerel in northern Australian waters, Journal of Fish Biology, 53, 543-559.
  2. 2 Cameron, D and Begg, G 2002, Fisheries biology and interaction in the northern Australian small mackerel fishery. Final report to Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Projects 92/144 and 92/144.02, Department of Primary Industries, Queensland.
  3. 3 West, LD, Lyle, JM, Matthews, SR, Stark, KE and Steffe, AS 2012, Survey of Recreational Fishing in the   Northern Territory, 2009­10, Fishery Report 109, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Darwin.
  4. 4 Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 2016, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop 2016, 14-15 June 2016, Brisbane, Australia, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
  5. 5 Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013-14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013-14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.
  6. 6 Begg, GA 1998, 'Reproductive biology of school mackerel (Scomberomorus queenslandicus) and spotted mackerel (S. munroi) in Queensland east-coast waters', Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 261-270.
  7. 7 Begg, GA, O'Neill, MF, Cadrin, SX and Bergenius, MAJ 2005, Stock Assessment of the Australian East Coast Spotted Mackerel Fishery, CRC Reef Research Centre, Townsville.
  8. 8 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, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 109-120.
  9. 9 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.
  10. 10 West, L.D, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle JM and Doyle, FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14. Fisheries Final Report Series.
  11. 11 Taylor, S, Webley, J and McInnes, K 2012, 2010 statewide recreational fishing survey, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane, Australia.
  12. 12 Halliday, IA, Ley, JA, Tobin, A, Garrett, R, Gribble, NA, and Mayer, DG 2001, The effects of net fishing: addressing biodiversity and bycatch issues in Queensland inshore waters (FRDC Project no. 97/206), Department of Primary Industries, Queensland.
  13. 13 Campbell, M 2013, Tactical Research Fund: Reducing the impact of discarded recreational fishing tackle on coastal seabirds. FRDC Project No 2011/057, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane.
  14. 14 Welch, D, Robins, J, Saunders, T, Courtney, A, Harry, A, Lawson, E, Moore, B, Tobin, A, Turnbull, C, Vance, D, and Williams, A 2014, 'Part 2: Species profiles', in D Welch, J Robins and T Saunders (eds.), Implications of climate change impacts on fisheries resources of northern Australia. FRDC Project No: 2010/565, James Cook University, Townsville.
  15. 15 Hobday, AJ, Poloczanska, ES, and Matear, RJ (eds.), 2008, Implications of climate change for Australian fisheries and aquaculture: a preliminary assessment, report to the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Canberra.
  16. 16 Pearce, A, Lenanton, R, Jackson, G, Moore, J, Feng, M, and Gaughan, D 2011, The “marine heat wave” off Western Australia during the summer of 2010/11, Fisheries Research Report No. 222, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.