Management changes for east coast Spanish mackerel

New east coast Spanish mackerel fishery management arrangements are in place from October 2022, following significant consultation with stakeholders. The changes aim to strike a balance between rebuilding the stock and providing more controlled access for recreational and commercial fishers.

The management actions for the east coast Spanish mackerel include the following:

  • A northern closure in east coast waters north of 22˚S (located slightly north of Stanage Bay, between Mackay and Yeppoon) for two three-week periods (six weeks total) in October and November each year. The northern seasonal closures will provide vitally important protection for spawning aggregations. The first northern closure will run this year from 22 October 2022 to 12 November 2022 and 21 November to 12 December 2022.
  • A southern closure in east coast waters south of 22˚S (located slightly north of Stanage Bay, between Mackay and Yeppoon) will run for two three-week periods (six weeks in total) in February and March each year. The first southern closure will run next year from 1 February 2023 to 21 February 2023 and 1 March 2023 to 21 March 2023.

Northern closure dates will be adjusted in subsequent years to align with new moon periods.

In consideration of pre-existing charter bookings made up to a year in advance, seasonal closures will not apply to recreational fishers on licensed charter fishing trips until the following season, starting on 1 July 2023.

Other key management changes:

  • On 1 July 2023, the recreational possession limit will change to one fish per person, or two fish per boat with two or more recreational fishers on board (the boat limit will not apply to licensed charter fishing trips).
  • On 1 July 2023, the extended charter trip limit will be removed (currently allows recreational fishers to take twice the in-possession limit for charter trips longer than 48 hours).
  • On 1 July 2023, the total allowable commercial catch will be adjusted to 165 tonnes for the 2023 fishing season.
  • A new smartphone app will be developed for recreational fishers to voluntarily report Spanish mackerel catches on the east coast and shark depredation. By supplying your catch information, you also improve our data, and the accuracy of our fish stock analyses.
  • A new education and awareness program will be introduced to promote best practice catch, release and handling techniques for recreational fishers.