Spotted Mackerel (2018)

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 Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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Spotted Mackerel occurs in two stocks. Stock status is sustainable on the continental shelf waters along Australia's eastern coast. Stock status is negligible across the northern and western coast.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Northern Australia MMF Negligible Catch, effort, current and historical fishing pressure 
Mackerel Managed Fishery (WA)
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Stock Structure

Spotted Mackerel occurs in continental shelf waters along Australia's western, northern and eastern coast between the Abrolhos Islands region to central New South Wales [Begg et al. 1998a, Cameron and Begg 2002]. 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 Sea [Begg et al. 1998a,b, Cameron and Begg 2002]. In northern and western Australian waters the delineation of stocks is less clear. Results from an otolith microchemistry study suggest that fish from Gove and Joseph Bonaparte Gulf may belong to separate stocks [Cameron and Begg 2002] although the biological stock boundaries are unknown. Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Eastern Australia; and the management unit—Northern Australia.

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Stock Status

Northern Australia

Spotted Mackerel is broadly distributed across northern Australia, with components occurring in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland [Begg et al. 1998a, Cameron and Begg 2002]. Stock status for the Northern Australia management unit is reported as Negligible due to historically low catches and the stock has not been subject to targeted fishing [QDAF 2018, Webley et al. 2015, West et al. 2012].

Spotted Mackerel is not a major component of the commercial or recreational landings in all jurisdictions. In Western Australia, only the Mackerel Managed Fishery is licensed to land mackerel species and in 2017 the reported commercial catch of Spotted Mackerel was less than 20 kg and the Charter catch was 88 kg. The Western Australian Mackerel Managed Fishery predominantly targets Spanish Mackerel with gear, and in locations, not conducive to catching Spotted Mackerel. Spotted Mackerel are not a major component of the recreational landings, estimated at < 1 t with high uncertainty. In the Northern Territory the recreational catch is < 2 t [West et al. 2012] and the commercial catch has averaged 159 kg over the last 10 years with a maximum harvest of 819 kg in 2016. In Queensland Gulf of Carpentaria waters there is limited recreational catch and commercial catches have been low since 1992 with a maximum harvest of 370 kg recorded in 2007–08. There is a recreational possession limit of five Spotted Mackerel in both Northern Territory and Queensland waters. Fishing is unlikely to be having a negative impact on the stock.

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Spotted Mackerel biology [Begg et al. 1998a, Begg et al. 2005, Cameron and Begg 2002, QDAF 2018]

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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Queensland – recreational (catch) Estimated from Webley et al. 2015 (26 000 fish retained by Queensland residents) and average weight of 2.6 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; (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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  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. 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 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries. 19-20 June 2018, Brisbane.
  8. 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.
  9. Taylor, S, Webley, J and McInnes, K 2012, 2010 statewide recreational fishing survey, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane, Australia.
  10. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.
  11. West, LD, Lyle, JM, Matthews, SR, Stark, KE and Steffe, AS 2012, Survey of Recreational Fishing in the   Northern Territory, 2009-­10, Fishery Report 109, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Darwin.
  12. West, LD, 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 No. 149. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.

Downloadable reports

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