New Australian mackerel controls strike delicate balance

Spanish mackerel fillets.

Conservation measures on Spanish mackerel introduced by an Australian state strike the right balance between conservation and economics, according to Victoria, Australia-based fisheries consultant Anthony Ciconte.

The new rules, introduced by Queensland Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Department for Queensland’s East Coast fishery, will come into effect October 2022 and will result in commercial catches being limited to 165 metric tons for the 2023 fishing season, down from 300 metric tons in 2022, the same level of fishing effort that has been allocated since 2004. There will also be several closed periods during the season, each three weeks in length.

The new rules follow a year-long consultation process and were prompted by an extended period of low catch rates, according to Ciconte, managing partner of Atlantis Fisheries Consultancy Group. The most-recent stock assessment for the fishery suggests Spanish mackerel stocks are down to 17 percent. 

Science shows the fishery can recover relatively quickly – taking as little as four to six years to return to healthy levels, Ciconte said. He castigated what he termed “alarmist, short-sighted comments” from environmental NGOs, which he said want “all Australian fisheries closed.”

“[If they succeed], we would be eating imported fish with no evidence of provenance and standards,” he said.

Ciconte said the new controls will ... 

Photo courtesy of Nutria3000/Shutterstock

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