Yellowtail Scad (2020)

Trachurus novaezelandiae

  • Matt Broadhurst (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)
  • Rocio Noriega (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Jeff Norriss (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)

Date Published: June 2021

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

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Yellowtail Scad has an Australian distribution from southern QLD to northern WA. The eastern stock of Yellowtail Scad is found in QLD, NSW and Commonwealth waters and is classified as sustainable. Catches in the western stock are limited and the stock is undefined.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia Undefined


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Stock Structure

Yellowtail Scad have an Australian distribution from southern Queensland to northern Western Australia [Stewart and Ferrell 2001], and also occur off New Zealand [Horn 1993]. The biological stock structure of Yellowtail Scad remains unknown; but in New South Wales there is evidence of spatial differences in growth rates which might indicate subpopulations [Stewart and Ferrell 2001]. Similar population variability has been observed for Yellowtail Scad in New Zealand [Horn 1993].

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

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Stock Status

Western Australia

The biology and demography of Yellowtail Scad in Western Australia have not been studied. The large majority of the WA catch is taken by the commercial purse-seine sector which targets other species. This sector's annual Yellowtail Scad catch has averaged around 11 t since 2000. These low catches appear due primarily to factors unrelated to stock abundance, such as economic return. The largest annual south coast catch on record, 104 t in 1999, which is at least four times greater than any other year, was associated with a sudden mass mortality of the primary target species, Australian Sardine. Catch and catch rates therefore do not adequately indicate stock status. There is insufficient information available to classify the status of the Western Australia biological stock, and so it is considered an undefined stock.

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Yellowtail Scad biology [Stewart and Ferrell 2001, Broadhurst et al. 2018]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Yellowtail Scad 24 years, 330 mm FL 2–4 years, 200–220 mm FL 
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Yellowtail Scad
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Fishing methods
Western Australia
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Beach Seine
Haul Seine
Purse Seine
Rod and reel
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Bag limits
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Fishing gear and method restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial zoning
Total allowable catch
Vessel restrictions
Bag limits
Licence (boat-based sector)
Possession limit
Spatial closures
Western Australia
Commercial 13.30t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Insufficient data

Western Australia – Recreational (management methods) A ‘recreational-fishing-from-boat license’ is required when using a powered boat to fish, or transport catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location. Shore based catches are largely unknown.

Queensland – Indigenous (Management methods) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing

New South Wales – Recreational (catch) Murphy et al. [2020].

New South Wales – https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Yellowtail Scad - note confidential catch not shown

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  1. Broadhurst, MK 2020, Stock assessment summary report 2019 – Yellowtail Scad (Trachurus novaezelandiae). NSW Department of Primary Industries. Fisheries NSW, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute. 7 pp
  2. Broadhurst, MK, Kienzle, M and Stewart, J 2018, Natural mortality of Trachurus novaezelandiae and their size selection by purse seines off south-eastern Australia. Fisheries Management and Ecology 25: 332–338
  3. Dawson, G, Suthers, IM, Brodie, S and Smith, JA 2020. The bioenergenetics of a coastal forage fish: Importance of empirical values for ecosystem models. Deep-Sea Res II. 175 (104700).
  4. Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and indigenous fishing survey. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra, Australia. ISSN 1440–3544.
  5. Horn, PL 1993, Growth, age structure, and productivity of jack mackerels (Trachurus spp.) in New Zealand waters. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 27: 145–155.
  6. Kennelly, SJ, Liggins, GW and Broadhurst, MK 1998. Retained and discarded by-catch from ocean prawn trawling in New South Wales, Australia. Fisheries Research, 36: 217–236.
  7. Lowry, M, Steffe, A and Williams, D 2006, Relationships between bait collection, bait types and catch: A comparison of the NSW trailer-boat and gamefish-tournament fisheries. Fisheries Research, 78: 266–275.
  8. Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, West, LD, Stark, KE and Hughes, JM 2020. The NSW Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program - survey of recreational fishing, 2017/18. NSW DPI - Fisheries Final Report Series No. 158.
  9. Neira, FJ, 2009, Provisional spawning biomass estimates of yellowtail scad (Trachurus novaezelandiae) off south-eastern Australia. New South Wales Department of Primary Industries Report, 32 pp
  10. Neira, FJ, Perry, RA, Burridge, CP, Lyle, JM and Keane, JP 2015, Molecular discrimination of shelf-spawned eggs of two co-occurring Trachurus spp. (Carangidae) in southeastern Australia: a key step to future egg-based biomass estimates. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 72: 614–624.
  11. QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
  12. Stewart, J and Ferrell, DJ 2001, Age, growth and commercial landings of yellowtail scad (Trachurus novaezelandiae) and blue mackerel (Scomber australasicus) off the coast of New South Wales, Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 35: 541–551.
  13. Stewart, J, Ferrell and Andrew, NL 1999, Validation of the formation and appearance of annual marks in the otoliths of yellowtail (Trachurus novaezelandiae) and blue mackerel (Scomber australasicus) in New South Wales. Marine and Freshwater Research, 50: 389–395.
  14. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013-14, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  15. 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. ISSN 2204-8669.

Downloadable reports

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