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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Mackerel management

Spanish mackerel is targeted by commercial and recreational fishers in Western Australia. We manage both sectors together to ensure long-term sustainability of the species.

The mackerel fishery operates from just east of Augusta to the Northern Territory border.

We manage recreational fishing through bag, size and possession limits. In addition, fishers using a powered boat require a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL).

In the commercial sector, mackerel catches are managed separately for three areas: Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne/West Coast. Most ‘effort’ (the amount of fishing) and catches are recorded north of Geraldton.

We manage commercial fishing through an individual transferable quota (ITQ) system, which sets a total allowable commercial catch (TACC) for each area. Gear restrictions also apply.

In 2012, the fishery was transferred to full management from interim management after extensive consultation with permit holders and the WA Fishing Industry Council. The move strengthened access rights for commercial fishers and streamlined management arrangements for the fishery.

For further information about commercial catch and effort please refer to the Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia. This publication should be read in conjunction with our Annual Report.

Monitoring, assessment and research

Spanish mackerel is used as an ‘indicator species​’ for the statewide large pelagic finfish resource. 

As an indicator species, the status of its breeding stock is used to indicate the stock status of all offshore pelagic (surface-dwelling) fish in each management region.

In the commercial fishing sector, a vessel monitoring system is used to monitor the amount of fishing activity. Skippers of licensed boats must also submit mandatory log books, as well as catch and disposal records. These records are used to monitor catch, effort and quota in the fishery. 

The 2023 stock assessment provides a ‘health check’ on the status of WA Spanish mackerel statewide and in each management region. The stock assessment shows WA Spanish mackerel remains sustainable with some concerns in the Pilbara region. 

Current management measures are expected to maintain WA Spanish mackerel at an acceptable level outside the Pilbara region. 
The next Spanish Mackerel stock assessment is scheduled for 2026. 

Read more in the Science Update​.

Last modified: 2/04/2024 10:49 AM

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