Scomber japonicus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Scombridae

Scientific Name: Scomber japonicus Houttuyn, 1782
Common Name(s):
English Pacific Chub Mackerel
French Bis, Cugüu, Hareng du Pacifique, Maquereau, Maquereau Blanc, Maquereau Espagnol, Scournou, Vizet
Spanish Barat, Beguihaundi, Biret, Biso, Bisol, Bissu, Caballa, Caballa Mora, Caballa Verle, Cachorreta, Carite, Cavalla Vera, Cuervas, Estornino, Gallimo, Macarela, Macarela Del Pacífico, Macarela Estornino, Magrú, Morenillo, Perilla, Pintada, Salmonete, Verdel, Verle, Vissu
Pneumatophorus colias (non Gmelin 1789)
Pneumatophorus diego (Ayres 1856)
Pneumatophorus grex (non Mitchill 1814)
Pneumatophorus japonicus (Houttuyn 1782)
Pneumatophorus japonicus japonicus (Houttuyn 1782)
Pneumatophorus japonicus marplatensis López 1955
Pneumatophorus peruanus Jordan and Hubbs 1925
Scomber capensis Cuvier 1832
Scomber colias (non Gmelin 1789)
Scomber dekayi (non Storer 1855)
Scomber diego Ayres 1856
Scomber gigas Fowler 1935
Scomber gracilis (non Swainson 1839)
Scomber grex (non Mitchill 1814)
Scomber janesaba Bleeker 1854
Scomber japonicus colias (non Gmelin 1789)
Scomber japonicus japonicus Houttuyn 1782
Scomber japonicus marplatensis (Lopez 1955)
Scomber japonicus peruanus (Jordan and Hubbs 1925)
Scomber joanesaba Bleeker 1854
Scomber macrophthalmus (non Rafinesque 1810)
Scomber maculatus (non Couch 1832)
Scomber peruanus (Jordan and Hubbs 1925)
Scomber pneumatophorus (non Delaroche 1809)
Scomber saba Bleeker 1854
Scomber scombrus japonicus Temminck and Schlegel 1844
Scomber undulatus (non Swainson 1839)
Taxonomic Notes: The Pacific Chub Mackerel (Scomber japonicus) has a Pacific distribution,and is replaced in the Atlantic by Scomber colias (Scoles et al. 1998, Collette 1999). Microsatellite and mitochondrial cyt b confirm that Scomber australasicus and S. japonicus are also separate species (Tzeng et al. 2009). Scomber japonicus is apparently absent from Indonesia and Australia, where it is replaced by Scomber australasicus (Collette 2001). The population from the Red Sea and northern Indian Ocean (the Gulf of Aden and Oman) is Scomber australasicus (Baker and Collette 1998).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2009-12-04
Assessor(s): Collette, B., Acero, A., Canales Ramirez, C., Cardenas, G., Carpenter, K.E., Chang, S.-K., Di Natale, A., Fox, W., Guzman-Mora, A., Juan Jorda, M., Miyabe, N., Montano Cruz, R., Nelson, R., Salas, E., Schaefer, K., Serra, R., Sun, C., Uozumi, Y., Wang, S., Wu, J. & Yeh, S.
Reviewer(s): Russell, B. & Polidoro, B.
This species is found in the northwestern Pacific, and in the southeastern and northeastern Pacific. Current assessment in the northwest Pacific indicate one stock is slightly increasing from record lows, and the other stock is also showing recent increases in spawning stock biomass. In the eastern Pacific, landings are also shown to be increasing, although historically there have been large fluctuations in the landing of this species. It is listed as Least Concern.
For further information about this species, see TUNAS_SkiJumpEffect.pdf.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is widespread in the Pacific Ocean. In the Eastern Pacific, it ranges from Alaska to the Gulf of California and central Mexico, including the Revillagigedo Islands. It also occurs from Panama to southern Chile (45°,41'S), including the Cocos, Malpelo and the Galápagos Archipelago.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Angola; Argentina; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Bulgaria; Cameroon; Canada; Cape Verde; Chile; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cuba; Cyprus; Denmark; Djibouti; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; Eritrea; France; French Guiana; Gabon; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Grenada; Guinea; Honduras; Hong Kong; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Lebanon; Liberia; Libya; Malta; Mauritania; Mexico; Monaco; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Oman; Palau; Panama; Peru; Philippines; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Saudi Arabia; Sierra Leone; Slovenia; Somalia; South Africa; Spain; Sudan; Suriname; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – northeast; Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Mediterranean and Black Sea; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – northeast; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):300
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The total world catch of Scomber colias and Scomber japonicus went from 52,996 mt in 1960 to a maximum of 3,412,594 mt in 1978 and then dropping back off from 962,978 to 1,546,906 mt between 1990 and 1995 (Hernandez and Ortega 2000).

Eastern Pacific
In the Eastern Pacific, FAO reported landings from 1973–2005 fluctuate from 150,000 to 950,000 mt per year (FAO 2009). Although these landing data have fluctuated widely from 1995–2005, they have shown an apparent increase (Canales 2006). In Chile, Peru and Ecuador landing statistics over the past 10 years are highly fluctuating between 400,000 and 835,000 mt, with an increasing trend in reported catch landings (FAO 2009).

This species is not very heavily targeted in Chile (with average annual catches of 200,000 mt), but it is caught as bycatch. In general there is no well-developed fishery for mackerel in Chile. This species is targeted in Peru, but catch landings have fluctuated. Between 1985–2007, the highest landings of 390,000 mt were in 2002. However based on acoustic sampling, biomass since 1999 has been reduced likely due to a shift in abundance and changes water temperature (Cardenas pers comm 2008).

Northeast Pacific
An assessment of the northeastern Pacific stock that extends north of Ounta Abreojos, Baja California north to southeastern Alaska shows spawning stock biomass (SSB) in a period of low abundance from 1940–1977, and then increasing in the late 1970s reaching a peak of 662,372 mt in 1982. Since 1982 spawning stock biomass (SSB) has declined, reaching an estimate of 86,777 mt in 2007. The recommended harvest quota in the U.S. for the 2007–2008 fishing season is 361% higher than the 2006–2007 quota, and higher than the maximum yield since 1992–2003 (Dorval et al. 2007).

Northwest Pacific
Based on stock assessments of populations of this species in the Japan and the Tsushima Current between 1995–2005 (Watanabe 2009), SSB peaked in 1979 at 1,400,000 mt, and then declined to less than 38,000 mt in 2002, where it remained low but stable until 2004 when it increased to 300,000 mt in 2006 and then has slightly declined. In the Tsushima Current, SSB since 1973 averaged 350,000 mt, with a peak of 550,000 mt in 1989 and a low of 100,000 mt in 2004, and then has increased again to about 200,000 mt in 2006. Both stocks have increased in the past 10–12 years, likely due to better recruitment associated environmental changes and reduction in number of vessels and seasonal closures.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is a coastal pelagic species, that is to a lesser extent epipelagic to mesopelagic, over the continental slope. It is found to depths of 300 m. Schooling by size is well developed and initiates at approximately 3 cm (Collette and Nauen 1983). It may also form schools with Sarda chiliensis, Trachurus symmetricus and Sardinops sagax (Collette 1995). This species stays near the bottom during the day and goes up to the open water at night (Maigret and Ly 1986) where it feeds on copepods and other crustaceans, fishes and squid (Collette and Nauen 1983).

Spawning most often occurs at water temperatures of 15–20°C. This species spawns in several batches, with 250–300 eggs per gram of fish, with the total number of eggs per female ranging from 100,000–400,000.

This species has an average longevity of approximately seven years (Caramantin-Soriano et al. 2008), although longevity can be as high as 14 years based on size-frequency growth studies in the USA and Mexico (Dorval et al. 2007). Age of first maturity is approximately 2–4 years (Watanabe and Yatzu 2006, Gluyas-Millán and Quiñonez-Velázquez 1996).  Generation length is therefore is estimated to be 4–6 years.

Maximum Size is 64 cm total length (TL). The all-tackle angling record is of a 2.17 kg fish caught off Guadalupe Island, Mexico in 1986 (IGFA 2011).
Generation Length (years):4-6
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is very important in commercial fisheries. It is marketed fresh, frozen, smoked, salted, and occasionally also canned (Collette 2001).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is caught with purse seines, often together with sardines, sometimes using light. It is also caught with trolling lines, gill nets, traps, beach seines, and midwater trawls. It is taken in sports fishing in California, and in small purse seines. In Mexico, it is caught in small purse seines, drift nets and recreational fisheries.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Some countries have management schemes and local regulations to protect the stocks of this species (Collette and Nauen 1983). For example, the USA has catch quotas in place based on estimated population biomass. In the northeastern Pacific, current catch efforts are relatively low and in recent years, current catch is well below this recommended quota or harvest guideline.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.2. Marine Oceanic - Mesopelagic (200-1000m)

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.6. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

♦  Food - human

Bibliography [top]

Baker, E. and B.B. Collette. 1998. Mackerel from the northern Indian Ocean and the Red Sea are Scomber australasicus, not Scomber japonicus. Ichthyol. Res. 45(1): 29-33.

Canales, C.R. 2006. Investigación, evaluación de stock y CTP Caballa 2005 – Fase II. nforme Final - Instituto de Fomento Pesquero: 42.

Caramantin-Soriano H, Vega-Pérez LA, Niquen M. 2008. Growth parameters and mortality rate of the Scomber japonicus peruanus (Jordan & Hubb [sic]) 1925) along the Peruvian coast, South Pacific. Brazil. J. Oceanogr. 56(3): 201-210.

Castro Hernández, J.J. and A.T. Santana Ortega. 2000. ynopsis of biological data on the chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus Houttuyn, 1782). FAO Fish. Synop. 157: 77.

Collette, B.B. 1995. Scombridae. Atunes, bacoretas, bonitos, caballas, estorninos, melva, etc. In: W. Fischer, F. Krupp, W. Schneider, C. Sommer, K.E. Carpenter, V.H. Niem (ed.), Guia para la identification de especies para los fines de la pesca, pp. 1521-1543. FAO, Rome.

Collette, B.B. 1999. Mackerels, molecules and morphology. In: B. Seret and J-Y Sire (eds), Proceedings of the 5th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, Noumea, 1997, pp. 149-164.

Collette, B.B. 2001. Scombridae. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific: 3721-3756.

Collette, B.B. and Nauen, C.E. 1983. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 2. Scombrids of the World: an annotated and illustrated catalogue of tunas, mackerels, bonitos and related species known to date. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Fisheries Synopsis number 125, volume 2.

Dorval, E. D., K. T. Hill, N. C. H. Lo, and J. D. McDaniel. 2007. Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus) stock assessment for U.S. management in the 2007-08 fishing season. Pacific Fishery Management Council June 2007 Briefing Book(Agenda Item F.2): 253.

FAO. 2009. FishStat Plus Version 2.32. Universal Software for Fishery Statistics Time Series. Available at:

Figueiredo, J.L. de, A.P. dos Santos, N. Yamaguti, R.A. Bernardes and C.L. Del Bianco Rossi-Wongtschowski. 2002. Peixes da Zona Econômica Exclusiva da Região Sudeste-Sul do Brasil: Levantamento com Rede de Meia-Água. Editora da Universidade de São Paulo, Sao Paulo.

Gluyas-Millán, M.G. and Quiñonez-Velázquez, C. 1996. Evidence of different stocks of mackerel Scomber japonicus. Ciencias Marinas 22: 77-395.

IGFA. 2014. World Record Game Fishes. International Game Fish Association, Dania Beach, Florida.

Infante, C., Blanco, E., Zuasti, E., Crespo, A. and Manchado, M. 2007. Phylogenetic differentiation between Atlantic Scomber colias and Pacific Scomber japonicus based on nuclear DNA sequences. Genetica 130: 1-8.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.2). Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2011).

Maigret, J. and Ly, B. 1986. Les poissons de mer de Mauritanie. Centre national de recherches océanographiques et des pêches (Mauritania) and Science Naturales, Compiègne, France.

Matsui T. 1967. Review of the mackerel genera Scomber and Rastrelliger with description of a new species of Rastrelliger. Copeia 1967: 71-89.

Scoles, D.R., Collette, B.B. and Graves, J.E. 1998. Global phylogeography of Mackerels of the genus Scomber. Fishery Bulletin 96: 823-842.

STECF. 2009. Review of Scientific Advice for 2010 Part 2. Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, Vigo, Spain.

Tang, W.-C. 1987. Chinese medicinal materials from the sea. Abstracts of Chinese Medicine 1(4): 571-600.

Tzeng C-H, Chen C-S, Tang P-C, Chiu T-S. 2009. Microsatellite and mitochondrial haplotype differentiation in blue mackerel (Scomber australasicus) from the western Pacific. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 66: 816-825.

Watanabe, C. and Yatsu, A. 2006. Long-term changes in maturity at age of chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus) in relation to population declines in the waters off northern Japan. Fisheries Research 78: 323-332.

Watanabe T. 1970. Morphology and ecology of early life in Japanese common mackerel, Scomber japonicus, Houttuyn, with special reference to fluctuation of population. Bull. Tokai Regional Fish. Res. Lab. 62: 283.

Citation: Collette, B., Acero, A., Canales Ramirez, C., Cardenas, G., Carpenter, K.E., Chang, S.-K., Di Natale, A., Fox, W., Guzman-Mora, A., Juan Jorda, M., Miyabe, N., Montano Cruz, R., Nelson, R., Salas, E., Schaefer, K., Serra, R., Sun, C., Uozumi, Y., Wang, S., Wu, J. & Yeh, S. 2011. Scomber japonicus. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T170306A6737373. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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