The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey
Non Technical Summary
A national survey of recreational and indigenous fishing was conducted in Australia during 2000-01. The survey was a joint initiative of State and Commonwealth governments to obtain a range of information about recreational and indigenous fishing in Australia. Telephone / diary and modified creel survey techniques were used to collect fishing information from more than 18,000 fishers over a 12-month period. The survey found that an estimated 3.36 million Australian residents, aged 5 years or older, fished at least once during the survey year. This represented a national participation rate of 19.5% in recreational fishing.
During the 12 months surveyed, recreational fishers spent an estimated total of 20.6 million days fishing, representing 23.2 million separate fishing events or 102.9 million fisher hours. On average, recreational fishers fished approximately 6 days per year with just 15% of all fishers accounting for about half the total effort. Nationally, about 80% of the total fishing effort occurred in saltwater (offshore, coastal, estuary) and 20% in freshwater (rivers, lakes and dams). Fishing from the shore attracted a greater level of activity (57% of events) than fishing from a boat (43% of events). Line fishing methods (bait, lure, jig, fly, setline) accounted for 85% of the national effort.
Recreational fishers harvested approximately 136 million aquatic animals during the survey year. The harvest included 60.4 million finfish, 11.5 million small baitfish, 6.1 million crabs and lobsters, 47.7 million prawns and yabbies, 1.8 million cephalopods, 7.2 million other molluscs and 1.2 million other taxa. The prominent species in the recreational finfish harvest were whiting (8.1 million fish), flathead (7.4 million), Australian herring (6.9 million), bream (4.9 million), King George whiting (3.8 million), mullet (2.9 million), garfish (2.4 million), tailor (2.3 million), Australian salmon (1.7 million) and snapper (1.3 million). Two pest species, European carp and English perch, were harvested in large numbers (2.1 and 1.3 million fish, respectively). Substantial quantities of crabs (3.9 million blue swimmer and 0.8 million mud crabs), lobsters (0.7 million), prawns (18.8 million) and freshwater crayfish (7.4 million crayfish) were also harvested.
The estimated expenditure on services and items attributed to recreational fishing was $1.8 billion. The national average attributable expenditure was $552 per fisher per annum. Expenditure on boats and trailers ($872 million) was the largest individual expense for fishers. Travel associated with fishing ($432 million), accommodation ($184 million) and fishing tackle ($146 million) followed in importance.
When asked about reasons for fishing, recreational fishers identified, in descending order of importance, 'to relax and unwind', 'fishing for sport', 'to be with family' and 'to be outdoors' as their primary motivations. Only a small proportion of fishers considered catching fish for food as their primary motivation for fishing.
The project achieved its goals regarding the collection of fishery statistics for the non-commercial components of Australian fisheries. A comprehensive fishing database has been established and survey methodologies developed, tested and proven. The information will be used by fishery agencies throughout Australia to support the management of recreational fishing in Australia.