Spanish Mackerel Regulations

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 -

Atlantic Migratory Group Spanish Mackerel

Commercial

Atlantic Northern Zone (NC-NY): OPEN

Atlantic Southern Zone (SC-FL to Monroe-Dade County line): OPEN

Size Limit: 12-inch fork length

  • Fishermen may possess undersized king mackerel less than or equal to 5% by weight of the king mackerel onboard.

Trip Limit:

  • Atlantic Spanish mackerel catches are divided into a Northern zone (NY/CT/RI line to the NC/SC line) and a Southern zone (NC/SC line to the Miami-Dade/Monroe county line, Florida) zone.
    • Atlantic Northern Zone, the trip limit is 3,500 pounds per vessel/day.
    • Atlantic Southern Zone
      • The trip limit is 3,500 pounds per vessel/day, with step downs as follows:
      • When 75% of adjusted Atlantic Southern Zone quota is met or projected to be met, the trip limit would be reduced to 1,500 lbs.
      • When 100% of adjusted Atlantic Southern Zone quota is met or projected to be met, the trip limit is reduced to 500 lbs.
      • Trip limit remains 500 lbs. until the end of the fishing year or until the Atlantic Southern Zone commercial quota is met or projected to be met, at which time the commercial sector in the Atlantic Southern Zone would be closed to harvest of Spanish mackerel.

Regulatory Remarks:

  • If fishing South of Miami-Dade/Monroe county line, FL, you must adhere to regulations for the Gulf Southern Zone - click here to learn more
  • An open access commercial permit for Spanish mackerel required.
  • Season opens March 1st and closes the end of February or when quota is filled. Each zone will close when that zone's landings reach the given zone's quota.
  • Must be landed with heads and fins intact.
  • Cut-off (damaged) fish that comply with the minimum size limit and applicable trip limits may be possessed, offloaded and sold.
  • A maximum of five additional undersized, cut-off (damaged) fish not subject to the trip limit may be possessed and offload but may not be sold.
  • 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.
  • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Commercial ACLs (quotas)from NOAA Fisheries.

Additional Information: 

  • A Fishery Performance Report is available for this species - click here!

Recreational

OPEN

Size Limit: 12-inch fork length

Bag Limit: 15 per person

  • Cannot combine state and federal bag limits.

Regulatory Remarks:

  • If fishing South of Miami-Dade/Monroe county line, FL, you must adhere to regulations for the Gulf Southern Zone - click here to learn more
  • Must be landed with heads and fins intact.
  • Gear restrictions apply.
  • Charter boat/headboat operators must possess a vessel permit for Atlantic Coastal Migratory Pelagics and must comply with bag limits.
  • Persons on charter boats on trips of more than 24 hours may possess up to but no more than 2 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 ACLsfrom NOAA Fisheries.

Additional Information:

  • A Fishery Performance Report is available for this species - click here!