Grey Mackerel


Latin name: Scomberomorus semifasciatus


Common name: Mackerel

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Wild Caught

Region:
NT, QLD

Key Facts

  • The stock status of grey mackerel is ranked as 'uncertain' in QLD in fishery reports; stocks are considered acceptable in NT.
  • Grey mackerel is caught in fisheries that target a range of sharks, often with no stock assessment for high-risk species, such as scalloped hammerhead sharks. Increasing catches of shark in the NT grey mackerel fishery is also concerning as shark biology makes them particularly vulnerable to fishing activity.
  • Threatened turtles, dugongs and seasnakes are caught in gillnets set in the QLD fisheries.
  • There are concerns about the quality of management of these fisheries, including how shark catches are monitored and levels of observer coverage.

More information

  • QLD East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery, Gulf of Carpentaria Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (1,095t 2009-10)
  • NT Offshore Net and Line Fishery (423t 2011)

The stock status of grey mackerel in QLD is listed as ‘uncertain’ in fishery reports; in NT, assessments indicate that current abundances of grey mackerel are acceptable.

The NT fishery that catches grey mackerel also targets a number of shark species, such as blacktip, spot-tailed and scalloped hammerhead shark, often with no stock assessments for high-risk species. The NT fishery has recorded increasing catches of shark in recent years. The lack of knowledge about shark abundances combined with increasing fishing pressure is particularly concerning as shark species are generally long-lived, are slow to mature and produce few young; this means shark populations are highly vulnerable to population depletions as a result of fishing activity.  Sharks are also apex predators that are essential to the maintenance of healthy marine food webs.

In both QLD fisheries, a number of threatened species are caught as bycatch in gillnets set to catch grey mackerel, including green, loggerhead, flatback and leatherback turtles, dugongs, sawfish and a number of shark species, including hammerhead sharks. Sectors of both fisheries also specifically target some species of shark although there is a lack of stock status information for the species caught.

There have also been inconsistencies between fisheries logbook records and information from independent observers in QLD. There is a high probability that protected species bycatch is actually higher than reported. There is an independent observer program in NT, but the amount of observer coverage is low.

Independent fishery observer programs are an important method of verifying protected species interactions. Unfortunately the QLD Government has closed the observer program for all QLD-managed fisheries. This is of particular concern in fisheries that interact with threatened species as since there is no record of actual protected species interactions over time, the ecological impacts of the fishery cannot be measured or managed.