Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus commerson (Lacépède 1800)

Other Names: Albacore, Banded Tuna, Doggie, Giant Mackerel, Kingfish, Leaping Tuna, Macko, Narrow-banded Spanish-mackerel, Narrow-bar, Narrow-barred Mackerel, Narrow-barred Spanish Mackerel, Narrowedbarred Mackerel, Narrowedbarred Spanish Mackerel, Snook, Spaniard, Tanguigue

A Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus commerson, caught just outside Paka, Terengganu, Malaysia. Source: Kevin Poh / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution 2.0


The Spanish Mackeral is one of the most popular recreational fishing species in tropical Australia, and is an important commercial species. It is a highly rated food fish, although there have been reports of ciguatera poisoning.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & S. Schultz, Scomberomorus commerson in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 Dec 2023,

Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus commerson (Lacépède 1800)

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Known in Australian waters from about Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia, to Cape Otway, Victoria, and around Tasmania; also Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea and Rowley Shoals, Western Australia. Elsewhere, widespread in tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific, ranging into temperate Australian waters during summer. The species has also migrated to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. A pelagic, neritic species, known to form small schools. Depth range 0-200 metres.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XV-XVIII, 15-20 = 8-10 finlets; Anal fin 16-21 + 7-12 finlets; Pectoral fin 21-24; Vertebrae 42-46; Gill rakers 1-8.

Body elongate and strongly compressed. Jaws with a single series of 5-38 sharp triangular teeth. Body covered in small scales, no anterior corselet present. Single lateral line abruptly bent ventrally below rear of second dorsal fin. Caudal peduncle with a well-developed keel, flanked on each side by a smaller keel. Dorsal fins separated by a narrow space. Swim bladder absent.


Maximum recorded size 240 cm FL, and 70 kg.


Dark bluish-grey to bluish-green above,  sides silvery grey, belly whitish. Sides with 40-50 dark grey vertical bars extending below the lateral line; bars occasionally breaking up into spots ventrally. Juveniles with a large black oval spots on body and fewer than 20 bars; first dorsal fin black except formiddle third of fin.


Carnivore - feeds mostly on small fishes such as anchovies, clupeids and carangids; also consumes squids and crustaceans.


Females mature at 70 cm fork length, males mature at 65 cm fork length. On the Great Barrier reef, the spawning season extends from October to December. Eggs and larvae are pelagic.


An important commercial and recreational species throughout its Australian distribution. In 2004/05 the commercial catch in QLD was at least 572 tonnes, and the recreational catch was at least 425 tonnes.

The species migrates southwards in summer, following the shoreward migration of its prey. This migration enables both commercial and recreational fishers to catch it on line using lures as bait.  Peak catches occur between August and September.


  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Near Threatened
  • Remarks

    Fish caught on the east coast of Queensland have reportedly caused poisoning due to a lipid-soluble toxin which is similar to ciguatoxin.

    Species Citation

    Scomber commerson Lacepède 1800, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons, v. 2 : 598, 600, pl. 20(1), no locality.


    Dianne J. Bray & S. Schultz

    Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus commerson (Lacépède 1800)


    Anonymous. 2006. East coast Spanish Mackerel Fishery. The State of Queensland, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. Available online at Accessed 13 May 2008.

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    Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

    Collette, B.B. 2001. Scombridae. pp. 3721-3756 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

    Collette, B.B. & Nauen, C.E. 1983. FAO species catalogue. Scombrids of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of tunas, mackerels, bonitos and related species known to date. Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Vol. 2. Rome : FAO. 137 pp. 81 figs

    Collette, B.B. & Russo, J.L. 1985. Morphology, systematics, and biology of the Spanish mackerels (Scomberomorus, Scombridae). Fishery Bulletin (U.S.) 82: 545-692, 70 figs

    Devaraj, M., 1983. Maturity, spawning and fecundity of the king seer, Scomberomorus commerson, in the seas around the Indian peninsular. Indian J. Fish. 30: 203-230.

    Fraser-Brunner, A. 1950. The fishes of the family Scombridae. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 12 3(7): 131-163 figs 1-35

    Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp.

    Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Sphyraenidae to Centrolophidae. pp. 774-800 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

    Gomon, M.F. & Robertson, E.M. 1994. Family Scombridae. pp. 819-828, figs 724-732 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

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    Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Checklist of fishes of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. pp. 239-253 in Wells, F.E. (ed.). The Marine Flora and fauna of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum.

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    Lacépède, B.G. 1800. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : chez Plassan Vol. 2 632 pp. 20 pls.

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    Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

    McPherson, G.R., 1987. Food of narrow-barred Spanish mackerel in north Queensland waters, and their relevance to the commercial troll fishery. Queensland J. Agric. Anim. Sci. 44(1):69-73.

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    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37441007

    Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

    Danger:Reports of ciguatera poisoning

    Depth:0-200 m

    Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish


    Max Size:240 cm FL; 70 kg

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    CAAB distribution map