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Stock assessment of Australian east coast Spanish mackerel : Predictions of stock status and reference points

O'Neill, M.F., Langstreth, J., Buckley, S.M. and Stewart, J. (2018) Stock assessment of Australian east coast Spanish mackerel : Predictions of stock status and reference points. Technical Report. State of Queensland.

PDF (Stock assessment of Australian east coast Spanish mackerel)


The stock assessment describes Australia’s east coast Spanish mackerel fishery operating in ocean waters between Cape York Peninsula and northern New South Wales. The species are a large offshore pelagic fish that can live for up to 26 years and weigh in excess of 30 kg. Spanish mackerel reach maturity above the minimum legal size of 75 cm at between two and four years of age.
The stock assessment was conducted at the whole stock level and included commercial, charter, recreational and research data from both New South Wales and Queensland. The data included estimates of Spanish mackerel harvest from logbook systems and recreational fishing surveys, catch rates from commercial logbooks and historical surveys of long term commercial fishers, and annual fish age-length compositions.
The fishery for east coast Spanish mackerel commenced in the early 1900s. Annual east coast harvests taken by commercial, charter and recreational fishing steadily built to peak at 1000–1300 tonnes (t) per year during the 1970s and 1000–1150 t per year between 1998 and 2003. The estimated annual Spanish mackerel harvest since 2005 reduced to 500–760 t per year. Most fishers harvest Spanish mackerel using line-fishing techniques. Net fishing for Spanish mackerel is illegal. In recent years about 47 per cent, 6 per cent and 47 per cent of annual Spanish mackerel harvests were taken respectively by commercial, charter and recreational fishing across all east coast waters.
Population modelling of the data estimated that Spanish mackerel population size in 2016 was between 30–50 per cent of original biomass estimated at the start of the fishery in 1911 (best estimate around 40 per cent biomass).
Estimates of recommended sustainable annual harvest of Spanish mackerel for all fishing sectors and east-coast waters ranged between 400 and 800 t. There is presently substantial unfished commercial quota. The current Queensland total allowable commercial catch quota is 574.6 t. If this were to be largely utilised, together with current or increased charter, recreational and New South Wales commercial harvests, then the biomass of the Spanish mackerel population may decline. Such high harvests would result in overfishing and reduce average catch rates longer-term.
The results suggested annual harvests of around 550 t (across all sectors) will build the biomass towards the 60 per cent level, consistent with the 2027 biomass targets set in the Queensland Government’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy. If there is a desire to operate the fishery closer towards 60 per cent biomass for better economic yield and quality of fishing (higher catch rates), then fishing pressure will need to reduce for a period of time to build the fish population to a higher biomass.

Item Type:Monograph (Technical Report)
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:The Queensland Government supports and encourages the dissemination and exchange of its information. The copyright in this publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY) licence. Under this licence you are free, without having to seek our permission, to use this publication in accordance with the licence terms. You must keep intact the copyright notice and attribute the State of Queensland as the source of the publication. Note: Some content in this publication may have different licence terms as indicated. For more information on this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/deed.en The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The Queensland Government shall not be liable for technical or other errors or omissions contained herein. The reader/user accepts all risks and responsibility for losses, damages, costs and other consequences resulting directly or indirectly from using this information.
Keywords:Stock assessment Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus commerson
Subjects:Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery conservation
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery management. Fishery policy
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery research
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery for individual species
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Seafood gathering
Live Archive:08 Oct 2018 23:03
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:44

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