Recreational fishing surveys in the Greater Sydney Region
Steffe, A.S. and Murphy, J.J., 2011. Recreational fishing surveys in the Greater Sydney Region. Fisheries Final Report Series No. 131 (ISSN 1837-2112). Cronulla, NSW, Australia. 122pp.
The Greater Sydney region covers a large area, stretching from the Newcastle area southwards to the Illawarra area. This region contains the three largest cities in New South Wales and a great number of the state’s recreational fishers. Despite the importance of the recreational fishing sector, relatively little information is available to quantify the level of fishing effort and the size of the associated catch in this region. This paucity of information and the possibility that a Marine Park may be created within the Greater Sydney region led to the creation of this project, which was designed to provide site-specific, baseline information on the activities of the recreational sector in this region. Recreational fishing surveys were done over a two year period, starting in March 2007 and ending in February 2009. A variety of on-site survey designs and data collection methods were used during this project. Surveys of estuarine recreational fishing were carried out in the Hawkesbury River and Port Hacking estuaries. A series of surveys of coastal marine trailer boat fishing were done at Norah Head, Terrigal, adjacent to the Hawkesbury River system, Long Reef, adjacent to the Port Hacking system, Bellambi, Port Kembla and Shellharbour. Coastal marine fishing effort originating from access points within Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay was also monitored.
We estimated that about 653,600 and 670,000 fisher hours of daytime recreational effort (boat and shore combined) were expended in the Hawkesbury River estuarine fishery during the two survey years respectively. The much smaller Port Hacking estuary received an estimated 219,000 and 217,800 fisher hours of daytime recreational effort (boat and shore combined) during the two survey years respectively. The levels of recreational fishing effort expended in each estuarine fishery were similar between survey years.
We estimated that about 65,600 and 67,100 daytime recreational fishing trips originated from the sites surveyed for coastal marine fishing during each of the two survey years respectively. The levels of coastal marine fishing effort expended at each coastal survey site were similar between years. Not surprisingly, the largest levels of fishing effort in the coastal marine trailer boat fishery originated from access points within the four large Sydney metropolitan access sites (i.e., Hawkesbury River system, Sydney Harbour, Botany Bay and the Port Hacking system). The surveys at sites in the Illawarra area (Bellambi, Port Kembla and Shellharbour) had intermediate amounts of fishing effort whilst the northern survey sites (Norah Head, Terrigal and Long Reef) had the lowest levels of fishing effort.
Recreational fisheries in the Greater Sydney region offer a wide variety of fishing opportunities. The recreational harvest was characterised by its great diversity of 140 taxa observed in the retained catch (estuarine and coastal marine combined) during the two year survey period. We estimated that about 134,000 and 134,900 fish, crabs and cephalopods were harvested by daytime recreational fishers from the Hawkesbury River estuary during each of the two survey years respectively. In contrast, we estimated that about 77,800 and 82,100 fish, crabs and cephalopods were harvested by daytime recreational fishers from the Port Hacking estuary during each of the two survey years respectively. The ten most commonly harvested taxa in the estuarine surveys, by number, were yellowfin bream, dusky flathead, yellowtail, sand whiting, sand mullet, tailor, blue swimmer crab, silver trevally, luderick and yellowfin leatherjacket. These ten species accounted for most of the harvest in the Hawkesbury River and Port Hacking estuarine fisheries, ranging between 78.5% and 88.1% of the total harvest on an annual basis.
We estimated that about 257,000 and 253,900 fish, crustaceans and cephalopods were harvested by daytime recreational fishers at the sites surveyed for coastal marine fishing during each of the two survey years respectively. The ten most commonly harvested taxa in the coastal marine surveys, by number, were eastern bluespotted flathead, ocean leatherjacket, snapper, silver trevally, southern calamari, blue mackerel, silver sweep, yellowtail, grey morwong and southern maori wrasse. These ten species accounted for most of the harvest (>80%) in the coastal marine fisheries.
The information in this report provides site-specific, baseline data on recreational fishing effort, catch (number of individuals) and the size structure of the retained catch within the Greater Sydney region. This information is vital because it provides a scientifically defensible, evidence-based framework for assessing any future changes in the recreational fisheries within this region. This extensive dataset will also allow us to determine the effectiveness of any future management changes in this region, whether they are spatial closures, changes in allocation among fishing sectors or modifications to existing bag and size limits.