Charter fishing logbook program

Information, which describes the catch, the amount of time spent fishing and the catch per unit of effort, is used to monitor many fisheries throughout the world. These catch, effort and catch rate data are almost always used as indices to support an opinion on the status of fish stocks. Long-term trends in these data are important to the commercial and recreational sectors because they can also be used as measures of fishing success.

Ideally, NSW Fisheries would like to measure the health of a fishery by directly recording information about every fish that is removed from the sea. Obviously, it is not possible to do this. The next best method is to sample a portion of the catch to collect data, which provides an indirect measure or index of the health of the fishery.

Why is it important to have a logbook for charter boats?

A charter boat logbook is needed to monitor trends in fishing success of the charter boat industry and the general health of the fisheries resources that are being used. The logbook will provide information about the catch, fishing effort and catch rates.

Catch - Information about the species composition and number of fish taken is essential. The catch data will be used to estimate the size of the catch for the whole charter boat fleet and enable the long-term monitoring of catch trends for the industry.

Fishing Effort - Information about the total number of charter trips done, the duration of individual fishing trips, and the amount of time spent fishing for different types of fish (eg. nearshore bottom fishing, sportfishing and/or gamefishing) during each trip. This will give us important information about the total amount of fishing effort expended by the fleet, the quality of fishing trips, and will also allow an assessment of changes in catch rates between years.

Catch Rates - Fishing effort and catch information is used to calculate catch rates. We are interested in examining long-term trends in catch rates because changes can be used to assess the fishing success of the industry and the general health of the fishery. When analysed with other data, decreasing catch rates would indicate problems in the fishery, increasing catch rates would indicate a healthy fishery, and no change in catch rate would indicate that the fishery is stable.

How will the logbook information be used?

The logbook information will be used to better manage the fisheries resources of the State. The catches of all the main user-groups, commercial and recreational, are required for the good management of shared fish stocks. The information from logbooks is only part of the total equation. We already have information about the catches of commercial fisheries, and some of the large coastal and estuarine recreational fisheries. We still need to obtain estimates of the statewide catch of recreational anglers on charter boats, to allow an assessment of the total catch equation.

Is the logbook information confidential?

Yes. The information that is provided to NSW Fisheries is treated in the strictest confidence. That is, we do not provide to any other government or industry group any information that may identify any boat or person.

Why is it important to record boat registration details?

We need to know who is providing the logbook information so that we can verify the accuracy of the logbook information. For example, we are keen to check any unusually large catches, or catches of rare species. Finally, we also like to confirm that logsheets are being filled out correctly and provide feedback to operators.

Changes to the measuring requirements

Many operators have reported difficulties with the requirement to record the number and size of all fish retained whilst charter fishing. Operators should measure as many fish as they can during each trip and preferably all of them. Following discussions with the Charter Boat Industry Review Group it was agreed that a representative sample of fish caught would satisfy NSW Fisheries’ research objectives. Therefore, if all fish retained cannot be measured, operators are requested to measure a random sample of the total catch (ie. do not sort the catch by size prior to measuring) to ensure there is no bias with the data.

Why is it important to measure the fish?

NSW Fisheries is interested in examining the average size of fish over many years. Any changes in the size of fish taken can be used to assess the health of the fish stocks. Decreasing fish sizes would indicate problems in the fishery, increasing sizes would indicate a healthy fishery, and no change in average size would indicate that the fishery is stable. We are also interested in comparing average fish sizes across the various commercial and recreational fisheries to assess whether the different user groups are using the same or different parts of the fish population. For example, it may be the case that trailer boat anglers catch fewer, smaller morwong than anglers on charter boats, which would indicate that these two user groups are utilising different parts of the morwong population.

Why is it important to use a fish identification kit?

The fish identification kit is important because it standardises the name given to a species and facilitates the computerisation of the data. For example, snapper have many common names such as red bream, cockney bream, reddies, knobbies, squire and schnapper. It makes good sense to ensure that we all know this fish by the same name when filling out logsheets. The same logic applies when reporting catches of other species. The kit has also proven popular with clients, who use the identification kit to check the identification of some of their catches.

Why is it important to record data about the angling groups that use charter boats?

The information about angling groups will help us to better understand the industry. NSW Fisheries will be able to look at basic questions such as: How many men and women go charter boat fishing? What parts of Australia do these anglers come from? Are they locals or visitors?

What benefit will the logbook program have for the charter boat industry?

The lack of historical charter boat information raised the possibility that fisheries managers and politicians may undervalue the industry and therefore government may not adequately consider the needs of charter boat operators. The logbook information can be used in a positive way to support the charter boat industry. The industry can use this catch and effort information to ensure more consideration, representation and input into decisions which affect your livelihood.