Spanish mackerel fishery and licences

You must have a licence to commercially fish for Spanish mackerel in the Northern Territory (NT).


The Spanish mackerel fishery is restricted to 15 licences, all of which are already allocated.

Licences can be bought, sold and leased.

Read more about buying, selling or leasing a commercial licence.

Fishing area

Commercial fishing for Spanish mackerel is allowed from the high water mark to the outer boundary of the Australian fishing zone, which is 200 nautical miles offshore.

Most Spanish mackerel are caught off the western and eastern mainland coasts and near islands including Bathurst Island, Groote Eylandt and the Wessel Islands.

Fishing generally takes place around reefs, headlands and shoals.

Fishing method

You may use any of the following methods to catch Spanish mackerel:

  • troll lines
  • floating hand lines
  • rods.

Commercial fishers operate using a mothership and up to two dories.

It is common for fishers to troll two to four lines behind a dory and up to eight lines from a mothership.

Most commercial fishers purchase bait for fishing but can use small mesh nets to catch bait.

The nets must be set in the open sea within and the fisher must always stay with the net.

Read more about commercial Spanish mackerel fishing in the Spanish mackerel fishery management plan 2004.


Spanish mackerel is the primary species taken in the Spanish mackerel fishery.

There are a small number of other mackerels taken as bycatch.

Ecological risk assessment

In 2020, an ecological risk assessment was carried out into the Spanish mackerel fishery.

The report identifies:

  • which species, habitats and communities are at risk from fishing
  • issues that must be further managed.

To find out more, read the risk assessment.

Spanish mackerel fishery ecological risk assessment PDF (996.5 KB)
Spanish mackerel fishery ecological risk assessment DOCX (417.0 KB)

Last updated: 20 May 2021

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