Mackerel Fishery

​​​​​​The Tasmanian Mackerel Fishery consists of five licences authorised to target small pelagic species—i.e., jack mackerels, blue mackerel and redbait—in State waters and the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the fishery must be set each year.​

These small pelagic species are shared stocks with the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF) managed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA). The Commonwealth SPF Harvest Strategy guides the setting the Commonwealth TAC using a rigorous assessment process for each species. The Tasmanian Mackerel Fishery TACs are set as a portion of the SPF TACs.

​The following species are taken in the Mackerel Fishery, however as they are highly mobile stocks they are also accessed by other fisheries and jurisdictions.​

Species taken in the Tasmanian Mackerel Fishery, including stock status, stock assessment area that the Total Allowable Catch is based on, a list of the fisheries that take these species and the markets.


Blue Mackerel​

​(Scomber australasicus)


​Stock Status
​Sustainable
​Stock Assessment Area
East of longitude 146°30’ due to evidence of separate stocks both east and west of Tasmania. The Tasmanian fishery is focussed on the east coast.
​Relevant Fisheries
​​Tasmanian Mackerel Fishery (targeted by purse seine)

Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery (incidental purse seine or hook)

Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery (targeted by midwater trawl and purse seine)

Commonwealth Trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (incidental catch by bottom and midwater trawl)

​Markets
Domestic and international for human consumption, bait for recreational fishing and fishmeal for aquaculture



Jack Mackerel

​(Trachurus declivis)

Jack mackerel

​Stock Status
​Sustainable
​Stock Assessment Area
East of longitude 146°30’ due to evidence of separate stocks both east and west of Tasmania. The Tasmanian fishery is focussed on the east coast.
​Relevant Fisheries
​​​Tasmanian Mackerel Fishery (targeted by purse seine)

Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery (incidental purse seine or hook)

Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery (targeted by midwater trawl and purse seine)

Commonwealth Trawl sector of the Southern and East​​​ern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (incidental catch by bottom and midwater trawl)​

​Markets
Domestic and international for human consumption, bait for recreational fishing and fishmeal for aquaculture



Redbait​

​(Emmelicthys nitidus)

Redbait
​Stock Status
​Sustainable
​Stock Assessment Area
East of longitude 146°30’ due to evidence of separate stocks both east and west of Tasmania.
The Tasmanian fishery is focussed on the east coast.​
​Relevant Fisheries
​​Tasmanian Mackerel Fishery (targeted by purse seine)

Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery (incidental purse seine or hook)

Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery (targeted by midwater trawl and purse seine)

Commonwealth Trawl sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (incidental catch by bottom and midwater trawl)​

​Markets
Domestic and international for human consumption, bait for recreational fishing and fishmeal for aquaculture


​Whilst there has been zero catch in the fishery since the 2012/13 season, fishing for small pelagic species is a sensitive issue in the community.


​​Catch Limits for Tasmanian State waters​

​As these species are predominantly taken in the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF) the TACs are set in accordance with the Small Pelagic Fishery Harvest Strategy​ (last revised in 2017) and based on the best available science. They also take into account advice from the Small Pelagic Fishery Resource Assessment Group (SPFRAG) and South East Management Advisory Group (SEMAC).

AFMA state that total catch limits for the 2020-21 fishing season leaves​ 88.4% of the combined estimated biomass of SPF stocks in the water for the marine environment and other uses such as recreational fishing.

The Tasmanian share of the TAC is based on a portion of the Commonwealth TAC set for each species. Since the Mackerel Fishery has not been active since the 2012/13 season DPIPWE proposes that the TAC for this fishery are set for two seasons—i.e., the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons. As the Tasmanian Mackerel Fishery operates in waters along the east coast of Tasmania, the TACs relevant to species in that fishery are based on the eastern stocks.​

Table 2: Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in tonnes (t) for the Tasmanian Mackerel Fishery by season (1 May to 30 April) by species.​
​SPECIES
​2018/19 (t)
​2019/20 (t)
​2020/21 (t)
​2021/22 (t)
​Blue mackerel
​2,015
​​1,995
tbc​tb
c​
erel
​2,500
2,500
tbc​tbc​
​Redbait
​570
​525
tbc​tbc​
​TOTAL (all species)
​5,083
5,020​​



The jack mackerel (east) TAC is largely informed by a Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM) survey conducted in 2019 and applying the SPF harvest strategy decision rules. For blue mackerel, the TAC was based on the fifth and final year at Tier 1. The results of new DEPM survey for blue mackerel (east) will be used to set the TAC in the SPF for the 2021/22 season. The redbait (east) TAC is informed by older DEPM assessments, consequently a lower TAC is applied.​

DPIPWE is supportive of the process used by AFMA, noting all Tasmanian catch of these small pelagic species are included in the Commonwealth assessments. It is considered that Tasmania could not duplicate a more robust process than that adopted by the Commonwealth, and decisions in line with the harvest strategy have previously been supported by the Tasmanian Government.

Assessment and Research​

For more information on how the TACs are set for the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery, please refer to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority's (AFMA) website.


Contact

Wild Fisheries Management Branch
1 Franklin Wharf
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6165 3000, 1300 368 550
Email: fishing.enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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