Spanish Mackerel - 2013
Stock Status – Viable – Based on the 2012 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council stock assessment, the Spanish mackerel stock in the South Atlantic is not overfished and is not undergoing overfishing.
Average Commercial Landings and Value 2003– 2012 – 639,431 lbs./$794,410
2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 916,439 lbs./$1,374,648 (quota managed)
Average Recreational Landings 2003– 2012 – 589,189 lbs., 2012 – 665,168 lbs.
Average Number of Award Citations (6 lbs.) 2003– 2012 – 100, 2012 – 132
Status of Fisheries Management Plan – In North Carolina, Spanish mackerel are currently included in the Interjurisdictional Fishery Management Plan, which defers to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council compliance requirements and is currently managed under Amendment 18 (2011) to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan. The amendment established annual catch limits, annual catch targets and accountability measures for South Atlantic Spanish mackerel. Management measures include commercial and recreational quotas, minimum size limits, commercial trip limits, recreational bag limits, and gear restrictions. Charter/headboat operators must possess a charter/headboat vessel permit for coastal migratory pelagics and must comply with recreational bag limits.
Research and Data Needs – Bycatch mortality estimates in the directed shrimp fishery, fishery-independent methods of monitoring stock size, juvenile abundance indices.
2012 Regulations – 12 inches fork length (FL) minimum size limit, 15 fish/day for recreational anglers; 3,500-pound commercial trip limit.
Harvest Season – Open year round, based on a fishing year of April 1 to March 31; commercial and recreational fisheries can close when the quota is reached.
Size and Age at Maturity – 12 inches FL/2 years
Historical and Current Maximum Age – 12 years/8 years
Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available
Habits and Habitats – Spanish mackerel are considered coastal pelagic, meaning they live in the open waters near the coast. They make north and south migrations depending on water temperature, with 68º F being a preferred minimum. In North Carolina’s waters, Spanish mackerel can be found from April to November. They migrate south to the Florida coast in the late fall. In the summer months, they may be found as far inland as the sounds and coastal river mouths. Spanish mackerel spawn from May to September.
For more information, contact Randy Gregory at Randy.Gregory@ncdenr.gov or 800-682-2632 or 252-726-7021.