Recreation & Culture

Recreation & Culture is about better fishing and happier people.

This research theme unpacks links between people and waterways, to secure better recreational fishing with sustainable economic, social and cultural benefits. The theme centres on assessing fish stocks and angling interactions, evaluating stocking efforts to maximise gains for fish and fishing, and supporting community engagement.

Theme Leader: Dr Gavin Butler

Impact highlights

  • Informing adaptive management through a long-term focus on native (golden perch and Murray cod) and salmonid (rainbow and brown trout) species, leading to positive changes for anglers (e.g., Blowering Dam and Copeton Dam open to year-round fishing).
  • Production of annual report cards on the performance of the NSW trout fisheries to provide feedback on fisheries status to stocking groups, anglers and managers. This promotes more effective stocking and more fish for anglers across NSW trout fisheries.
  • Development of State-wide citizen science programs to provide much needed catch and effort information for the monitoring of freshwater recreational fisheries. This information contributes to understanding the sustainability of the fishery.
  • Evaluation of stocking protocols to improve fishery outcomes and overcome threats (e.g., stocking large trout to avoid predation and provide better returns for anglers).
  • Monitoring outcomes of stocking over 9 million fish since 2000 from our hatcheries, to improve fishing, re-establish populations and boost the genetic fitness of threatened fish species.

Research focus

  • Evaluation of fish stocks and fishery performance using surveys, population modelling, mark-recapture studies, and video counters employing machine learning.
  • Deepening understand of stocking effectiveness and the success of stocking protocols across NSW river and lake fisheries.
  • Applying innovative field and laboratory methods to strengthen salmonid fisheries management with real-time data delivery and evaluations.
  • Creating new fishing opportunities. For example, allowing Murray cod to be targeted year-round in impoundments that have little or no natural recruitment.

Current projects

Two-Eyed Seeing Project

This project is about working with NSW Aboriginal communities to identify freshwater cultural fishery values and supporting communities to use their cultural knowledge to influence sustainable management of freshwater native fish. Check out Two-Eyed Seeing for more information. Project lead: Dr Katherine Cheshire.

These projects are led by Dr Nathan Miles

Building strong and sustainable freshwater fisheries

Our research directly benefits recreational fishing, by providing essential data to managers and anglers. High-quality and proactive decisions can ensure the best possible performance (e.g., optimal catch rates, presence of trophy fish etc.) and outcomes of measures (e.g., fish stocking). Check out the recreational fishing website for more information.

Robust resource assessments and stock enhancements

Iconic species, like Murray crayfish, are important to communities and play important ecological roles in ecosystems. We work with collaborators to monitor long-term changes in populations and provide information for fine-scale, sensible management of harvest areas, bag limits and legal lengths of species to ensure healthy fisheries.

Better management for better fishing

Understanding the genetics of fisheries allows us to form more effective stocking and management strategies for recreational fish species. This means working with anglers to establish baselines for future stock assessments, optimising restocking programs and understanding the needs of the fishery.

Key publications

  • Ochwada‐Doyle, F., Miles, N., Stark, K., Hughes, J., Murphy, J., Lowry, M., & West, L. (2021). Spatial variation in species‐specific catch and size structures across a large‐scale and diffuse freshwater recreational‐only fishery. Fisheries Management and Ecology.
  • Forbes J. P., Todd C. R., Baumgartner L. J., Watts R. J., Robinson W. A., Steffe A. S., Murphy J. J., Asmus M. W., and Thiem J. D. (2020). Simulation of different fishery regulations to prevent population decline in a large freshwater invertebrate, the Murray crayfish (Euastacus armatus). Marine and Freshwater Research 71:962-971.
  • Miles NG, Butterfield T, Rohan M, Westaway C. (2021). Preliminary assessment of the recreational fishery in the Murray River near the trout cod spawning closure. Fisheries Final Report Series (160), NSW DPI Fisheries, Nelson Bay, NSW.
  • Forbes J. P., Steffe A. S., Watts R. J., Baumgartner L. J., Brown P., Thiem J. D., and Miles N. (2020). Implementation of a harvest slot for Murray cod: Initial impacts on the recreational harvest in a manmade reservoir and comparison to riverine fisheries. Journal & Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 153:138-155.