Priority Area Snapshot


Participated in the statewide catch survey program


Received and entered into the tagging database


Tagged since the program began in 1973

Game Fish Tagging Program

The Game Fish Tagging Program is the largest citizen science tagging program of its kind in the world and has been in operation since 1973. It involves anglers getting vital information on the biology of fish (primarily billfish, tuna, sharks and sport fish) through tagging, while encouraging fishers to participate in the management of the fishery.

Key achievements:

  • Reached the incredible milestone of 500,000 fish tagged since the program began
  • More than 9,580 tags received and entered into the tagging database, with 445 reported fish recaptures
  • 12,140 pelagic, 10,240 billfish, and 3,820 shark, 710 flathead and 680 snapper tags distributed to game fishing clubs and individual anglers
  • Additional estuaries (Richmond, Bellinger and Hastings) added to the Trophy Flathead Tagging Program.

Where are all the big kingfish?

Led by the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (in collaboration with Macquarie University, UNSW and DPI) an extensive field campaign using specialist recreational fishers to catch and deploy satellite tags on mature kingfish at key sites in NSW commenced in 2022. This project uses satellite-tracking to reveal spawning habitats and recruitment ‘hotspots’ to provide crucial insights to address urgent knowledge gaps. The project aims to help increase quality fishing opportunities for this iconic recreational species.

Key achievements:

  • More than 900 recreational anglers successfully engaged through @project_kingfish social media channels
  • Analysis from the Gamefish Tagging Program (consisting of almost 40,000 kingfish tagged and 3,000 recaptured since 1973) revealed common migratory routes for kingfish in eastern Australia as well as champion anglers in the community who have dedicated their time to contributing invaluable citizen science data
  • Sponsorship by Project Kingfish of the Biggest Kingfish Prize at the Lord Howe Island Annual Fishing Tournament with a number of kingfish tagged and released during the event.

Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program

The Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program uses a telephone-diary survey to collect ongoing, accurate and up-to-date information on recreational catch, effort and participation across NSW, as well as an on-board observer and logbook program to collect this information for the recreational charter fishery. The most recent surveys of recreational fishing were completed in 2017–18 and 2019–20, with the 2021-22 survey currently underway. The surveys provide biennial snapshots of effort, catch and participation for the households of long-term (1 and 3 year) licensed recreational fishers within NSW. This information is used in stock assessments and helps ensure sustainable fishing into the future.

Key achievements:

  • The successful commencement of the 2021–22 survey period, with more than 1,200 households involved in the 12-month diary survey program
  • Analysis of the 2019–20 survey was finalised with information from 7,400 individual fishing events recorded, indicating that licensed households undertook 1.7 million days of fishing and caught 7.9 million individual organisms across 128 species.

Research Angler Program

The Research Angler Program enables anglers, as citizen scientists, to contribute to the scientific knowledge and stock assessment of key recreational species in NSW by donating fish frames.

Key achievements:

  • angler participation in the program increased through the use of a variety of incentives, resulting in more than 135 anglers donating 1699 fish frames or otoliths
  • expansion in the number of frame collection locations through the involvement of local tackle businesses in regional areas. There are now 34 drop off locations across NSW - an increase of 10% from last year
  • Inclusion of two new species - Pearl Perch and Bluespotted Flathead - collected by the program to help address knowledge gaps for these species and enable more fishers to participate in the program.

Monitoring and research on landed fish at game fishing tournaments

Undertaken by Pepperell Research & Consulting Pty Ltd, this project facilitates and conducts monitoring, sampling and biological research on billfish, tuna, sharks and other gamefish captured and weighed at the major game fishing tournaments in NSW.

Key achievements:

  • the attendance by Pepperell Research staff at 8 tournaments from Port Stephens to Shellharbour
  • a total of 60 landed fish were measured, examined and sampled, including 25 billfish, 19 sharks, 4 tuna and 12 other gamefish
  • the use of organs, tissues and parasites sampled at these tournaments for research conducted by scientists and students from Macquarie, Charles Sturt and Sunshine Coast Universities
  • A 197.5 kg Pacific Bluefin Tuna was captured near the Central Coast during the Broken Bay Invitational Tournament. A flesh sample was collected and sent to the CSIRO in Tasmania, where, for the first time, the entire genome will be sequenced.

Great Swordfish Race Project

The Great Swordfish Race Project provides data and research on movement, availability, distribution and post-release survival of fish caught along the NSW coast through the use of pop-up satellite tags deployed by experienced recreational anglers.

Key achievements:

  • 2 satellite pop-off tags deployed by recreational anglers
  • Continued education on best practice handling techniques for Swordfish.

Building a Healthy Freshwater Fishery

Building a Healthy Freshwater Fishery is a long-term program for monitoring fishery indicators, assessing management interventions and undertaking targeted research that will benefit recreational fishers by providing fishery managers with relevant and up-to-date information.

Key achievements:

  • completion of annual trout fishery monitoring in the Snowy Lakes and streams across NSW
  • development and continuation of tagging studies monitoring Murray Cod habitat usage and movements in Copeton Dam and the upper Murray River
  • initial trial and development of a monitoring and reporting program for the NSW Bass fishery.

Effectiveness of freshwater and marine fish stocking

Native fishes and salmonids are stocked into rivers, inland lakes and estuaries throughout NSW to increase recreational fishing opportunities. This program evaluates the success of these initiatives and aims to increase the effectiveness of future stockings.

Key achievements:

  • Dusky Flathead stockings during 2022 were guided by findings from a study which tracked juvenile fish in Lake Macquarie. As the study showed juvenile Dusky Flathead prefer the edges of seagrass beds, stocking activities focused on patchy seagrass and sand habitats in five estuaries across the NSW coast
  • hundreds of DNA samples were collected from hatchery reared Dusky Flathead and Mulloway to ensure fish releases maintained the genetic structure and diversity in wild populations
  • fish numbers and biomass were estimated in all major impoundments stocked with salmonids and native fishes using hydroacoustic surveys
  • further validation and survey work commenced, allowing improved species identification
  • continuation of salmonid stocking protocols evaluations, showing strong returns for fish grown in warmer water (optimised growth)
  • FishGen, a program using DNA for age studies and origin determination, was implemented to examine stocking success for native fish in key NSW impoundments.

Fish Screens Australia

Modern fish screens protect native fish and farms. They keep fish and debris in waterways and out of water infrastructure, delivering benefits to biodiversity and businesses. The Fish Screens Australia program (formerly known as Screens for Streams) is accelerating the adoption of modern fish screen technology by water users, using showcase sites to provide real-world examples that inspire uptake. This generates win-win outcomes for the environment and local economies.

Key achievements:

  • a new $13.5 million investment was made by the NSW Government for fish screens in the Macquarie River valley. The program aims to screen up to 50 pumps, covering 70% of the water extracted from Burrendong Dam, and protect 2 million fish every year
  • an Expressions of Interest program was launched for the $20 million fish screening component of the Northern Basin Toolkit, (funded by the Commonwealth Government), allowing farmers to install screens along the Barwon-Darling and lower Mehi Rivers
  • a new joint research project was funded by the Fisheries and Cotton Research and Development Corporations to document the economic and ecological cost-benefits of modern screens. Some water users are already reporting energy savings of $2,000 to $3,000 per month.

2021-22 Annual Report

Income and expenditure from the Trusts are subject to an annual audit and regular announcements are made about licence fee expenditure. DPI also carries out periodic surveys of recreational fishing licence holders to ensure that the broad funding priorities are in line with angler expectations.

Download the 2021-22 Annual Report