Spanish Mackerel ( ) Scomberomorus commerson

Wild Fisheries research Program
Spanish Mackerel
(Scomberomorus commerson)
Exploitation Status
Fully Fished
Majority of the commercial harvest occurs in Queensland waters and status from the Queensland
assessment has been adopted.
Scientific name
Standard name
Scomberomorus commerson
Spanish mackerel
Scomberomorus commerson
Image © Bernard Yau
Spanish mackerel are distributed in the waters
of the Indo-Pacific from the Red Sea and South
Africa to southeast Asia, north to China and
Japan, and south to Australia. They are also
found in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In
Australian waters, they are distributed from
Geographe Bay in WA around northern and
eastern Australia to St Helens in Tasmania.
Within this geographical distribution, Spanish
mackerel can be found from the edge of the
continental shelf to shallow coastal waters.
Adults are associated with coral reefs, rocky
shoals and current lines on outer reef areas
and offshore. Small juveniles up to 10 cm
fork length (FL) occur in creeks, estuaries and
sheltered mud flats during the early wet season
in north Queensland.
Sampling of Spanish mackerel in WA showed
that 50% of females reached sexual maturity
at about 79 cm, while 50% of males reached
sexual maturity at 63 cm. Females can be
categorised as serial or partial spawners with
fish showing a peak in reproductive activity
between August and January in WA, and during
the spring/summer months in Queensland.
They are highly fecund - large females produce
more than 1 million eggs. In Queensland
waters, Spanish mackerel can reach 240 cm FL
and a maximum weight of 70 kg with females
growing to a larger size than males. Initial
growth is rapid with fish reaching 100 cm in
the first few years of life. The oldest males
and females sampled from catches by the
Queensland commercial fishery were 10
(127 cm FL, 19 kg) and 14 years (155 cm FL,
35 kg) respectively.
Migrations of Spanish mackerel extend along
the entire east coast of Queensland although
permanently resident populations also seem
to exist. Resident fish disperse from reefs after
spawning whilst migrating fish can move up
to 1000 nautical miles to the south (into NSW
waters). The use of parasites to distinguish
between stocks suggested that there may be
six separate stocks of Spanish mackerel across
northern Australia, however, the use of isozyme,
allozyme and mitochondrial DNA genetic
analysis failed to find any significant differences.
The diet of Spanish mackerel consists of small
fish like anchovies, clupeids and carangids, as
well as squid and prawns.
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wild fisheries research program
Additional Notes
• NSW commercial landings are small (< 10 t)
compared with Queensland (200 - 600 t).
Landings by Commercial Fishery of Spanish
Ocean Trap and Line (Key Secondary Species)
• There are significant recreational landings of
Spanish mackerel, especially in Queensland.
Ocean Hauling (Conditional Target Species)
• There is a minimum legal length of 75 cm
total length for Spanish mackerel and a
combined recreational bag limit of 5 for all
Spanish and spotted mackerel.
Landings (t)
• A length-based stock assessment conducted
in 2008 by Queensland Fisheries concluded
that the stock was at about maximum
sustainable yield level, with exploitable
biomass estimated to be 35-60% of the
unfished level.
Financial Year
Reported landings of Spanish mackerel by NSW
commercial fisheries from 1997/98. * Fisheries which
contribute less than 2.5% of the landings are excluded
for clarity and privacy.
Recreational Catch of Spanish Mackerel
Catch Per Unit Effort Information of Spanish
Mackerel Harvested by All Line Methods in NSW
Landings (t)
Historical Landings of Spanish Mackerel
Relative Catch Rate
The annual recreational harvest of Spanish
mackerel in NSW is likely to lie between 10
and 100 t. This estimate is based upon the
results of the offsite National Recreational and
Indigenous Fishing Survey (Henry and Lyle,
2003) and onsite surveys undertaken by
I & I NSW.
Financial Year
Financial Year
Commercial landings (including available historical
records) of Spanish mackerel for NSW from 1978/79 to
2008/09 for all fishing methods.
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Catch rates of Spanish mackerel harvested using all
line methods for NSW. Two indicators are provided:
(1) median catch rate (lower solid line); and (2) 90th
percentile of the catch rate (upper dashed line). Note that
catch rates are not a robust indicator of abundance in
many cases. Caution should be applied when interpreting
these results.
s tat u s o f f i s h e r i e s r e s o u r c e s i n n s w, 2 0 0 8 / 0 9
Fur ther Reading
Collette, B.B. and C.E. Nauen (1983). Scombrids of the
World. An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue
of Tunas, Mackerels, Bonitos and Related Species
Known to Date. Rome, FAO: 137 pp.
Henry, G.W. and J.M. Lyle (2003). The National
Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final
Report to the Fisheries Research & Development
Corporation and the Fisheries Action Program
Project FRDC 1999/158. NSW Fisheries Final Report
Series No. 48. 188 pp. Cronulla, NSW Fisheries.
McPherson, G.R. (1992). Age and growth of the
narrow-banded Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus
commerson Lacepede, 1800) in north-eastern
Queensland waters. Australian Journal of Marine and
Freshwater Research 43: 1269-1282.
McPherson, G.R. (1993). Reproductive biology of the
narrow barred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus
commerson Lacepede, 1800) in Queensland waters.
Asian Fisheries Science 6 (2): 169-182.
Queensland Fisheries. (2009). Annual status report
- 2009 east coast Spanish mackerel fishery.
Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic
Development and Innovation: 13 pp.
Queensland Fisheries. (2010). Stock status of
Queensland’s fisheries resources 2009-10.
Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic
Development and Innovation: 65 pp.
Steffe, S., J. Murphy, D. Chapman, B.E. Tarlington,
G.N.G. Gordon and A. Grinberg (1996). An
assessment of the impact of offshore recreational
fishing in New South Wales on the management of
commercial fisheries. Project 94/053. Sydney, NSW
Fisheries Research Institute: 139 pp.
Welch, D., S. Hoyle, N. Gribble and G. McPherson
(2002). Preliminary assessment of the east coast
Spanish mackerel fishery in Queensland. Brisbane,
Queensland Department of Primary Industries.
Please visit the CSIRO website, and search for the
species code (CAAB) 37 441007, common name or
scientific name to find further information.
© State of New South Wales through Industry and Investment NSW 2010. You may copy, distribute and otherwise freely deal with this publication for any purpose, provided that you attribute Industry and Investment NSW as the owner.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing (April 2010). However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that information upon which they rely is up to date and to check currency of the information with the appropriate officer of Industry and Investment NSW or the user’s independent adviser.
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