Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel

Scomberomorus maculatus

AKA:

Spaniard

Managed by:

SAFMC, GMFMC


Physical description:

The Spanish mackerel is much smaller than its relative, the king mackerel, averaging only 2 to 3 pounds in weight. Spanish mackerel are greenish dorsally with silver sides and belly. Yellow or olive oval spots traverse the body, which is covered with very tiny scales. The lateral line curves gently to base of tail.


Biological description:

Spanish mackerel form immense, fast-moving schools that are distributed from New York to Mexico, preferring water temperatures above 68° F. Unlike king mackerel, Spanish mackerel do not appear to move freely around the Florida Keys, creating two subpopulations, one in the Gulf and the other off the southeastern states. Spanish mackerel are fast growing, and may live to be 8 years old. Both sexes are capable of reproduction by the second year. Spawning occurs from April to September off the North Carolina and Virginia coasts. Feeding Spanish mackerel are often seen forcing schools of small fish into tight bundles and nearly pushing them out of the water.


South Atlantic Federal Regulations -

FACT SHEET - Recent Regulatory Changes for Mackerels & Cobia (August 2017)

Commercial:

  • CLOSED in Northern Zone (NC-NY) only
  • Size Limit: 12-inch fork length
  • Trip Limit:
    • For a complete summary of regulations, see: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/MakingSenseofMakerel.htm
    • Atlantic Spanish mackerel catches are divided into a Northern zone (NC through the Mid-Atlantic) and a Southern zone (SC, GA, and FL east coast to Dade-Monroe county line) zone.
    • CLOSED in Northern zone, the trip limit is 3,500 pounds per vessel/day.
    • For Southern zone,
      • When 75% of adjusted Southern Zone quota is met or projected to be met, the trip limit would be reduced to 1,500 lbs.
      • When 100% of adjusted Southern Zone quota is met or projected to be met, the trip limit is reduced to 500 lbs until the end of the fishing year or until the Southern Zone commercial quota is met or projected to be met, at which time the commercial sector in the Southern Zone would be closed to harvest of Spanish mackerel.
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Season opens March 1 and closes end of February or when quota is filled.
    • Must be landed with heads and fins intact.
    • Annual permit required.
    • Authorized gear: automatic reel, bandit gear, handline, rod & reel, cast net, run around gill net and stab net.
    • Minimum size of 3.5 inch stretch mesh required for all run around gill nets.
    • Purse seines and drift gill nets are prohibited.
    • To reduce waste in the fishery, possession of cut-off king and Spanish mackerel that comply with the minimum size limits and the trip limits will be allowed in the Atlantic EEZ. Sale of such cut-off fish will be allowed. This is an addition to the existing allowance for possession and retention of a maximum of 5 cut-off king mackerel that are not subject to the size or trip limits, but that cannot be sold or purchased, nor counted against the trip limit.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Commercial ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries.
  • Additional Updates:

Recreational:

  • Size Limit: 12-inch fork length
  • Bag Limit: 15 per person off Florida through New York. Cannot combine state and federal bag limits.
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • o Must be landed with heads and fins intact.
    • o Gear restrictions apply.
    • o Charterboat/headboat operators must possess a charter/ headboat vessel permit for Coastal Migratory Pelagics and must comply with bag limits.
    • o Persons on charterboats on trips of more than 24 hours may possess up to 2 bag limits (see additional information below).
    • o King & Spanish Mackerel Multi-day Possession Limit - A person who is on a trip that spans more than 24 hours may possess no more than two daily bag limits, provided: Such trip is aboard a vessel operating as a charter vessel or headboat; The vessel has two licensed operators aboard; Each passenger is issued and has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel that verifies the length of the trip.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) - This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Recreational ACLs from NOAA Fisheries.
  • Additional Updates:
    • Note: Helpful information regarding the management of king and Spanish mackerel can be found at NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office - Making Sense of Mackerel