Priority Area Snapshot


Fish tagged and recorded in the tagging database


Donating 1,620 fish frames or otoliths to the Research Angler Program


Of Kingfish tag-recapture data analysed (1973 to 2022)

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:

  • 10,860 tag cards received and entered and around 460 reported recaptures, demonstrating that fish tagging for the program has returned to pre-Covid levels
  • distribution of 10,550 pelagic, 12,200 billfish, 4,050 shark, 600 flathead and 695 Snapper tags to game fishing clubs and individual anglers
  • continued growth and participation of recreational anglers tagging key sportfish like Mulloway, Snapper and flathead
  • continued use of data from the program utilised in several research publications, harvest strategy development, and other reports and articles
  • increased participation from Game Fishing Clubs in the South Pacific
  • continued development of the game fish tagging database.

Where do Kingfish go to spawn?

Project Kingfish uses a multi-disciplinary approach to gain new insights into the movements, spawning habitats and key recruitment areas for Kingfish off Eastern Australia. The project aims to help increase quality fishing opportunities for this iconic species into the future.

Key achievements:

  • more than 3,000 recreational anglers regularly engaged with Kingfish fishing and biology through Project Kingfish social media channels
  • five Kingfish tag-and-release tournaments across NSW were hosted or sponsored, promoting tag-and-release fishing practices and enhancing data collection via the NSW DPI Game Fish Tagging program
  • successful collaboration with 15 expert anglers to satellite tag 23 sexually mature Kingfish: So far, 18 have detached providing broad-scale insights into Kingfish movement, five tags are still attached and collecting data, with more to deploy
  • analysis of 50 years (1973 to 2022) of Kingfish tag-recapture data from the DPI Game Fish Tagging Program completed, revealing movement patterns and population structure of Kingfish across Australia and exploring connectivity between fishery jurisdictions
  • analysis of 102 Kingfish otoliths (ear bones) sourced from the NSW Research Angler Program, using stable isotope microchemistry to determine spawning temperatures of Kingfish caught off NSW.

Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program (RFMP)

The Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program (RFMP) gathers information on recreational fishing through phone-diary surveys across NSW. These surveys offer biennial insights into catch, effort, and participation among licensed fishers. RFMP also covers charter fishing using onboard observers and logbooks. This data informs resource assessments, management decisions, and ensures future sustainability.

Key achievements:

  • analysis of the 2019–20 charter monitoring program revealed that 82 licensed marine charter businesses operated statewide, undertook more than 3,600 trips and hosted almost 25,000 recreational fishers
  • analysis of charter monitoring data revealed that more than 100,000 fish of 130 different species were caught, with the top five species being Bluespotted Flathead, Snapper, Blue Mackerel, Yellowtail Scad and Grey Morwong
  • the successful completion of the 2021–22 telephone diary survey, with more than 1,200 households involved in the 12-month diary program.

Research Angler Program (RAP)

The Research Angler Program (RAP) empowers anglers as citizen scientists to aid in scientific understanding of key NSW fish species. They contribute by donating fish frames, from which age-determining earbones (otoliths) are extracted. This age data forms a picture of species' age distribution, assessing their health and population. Gathering this data over time unveils potential changes in NSW fish populations.

Key achievements:

  • increased angler participation in the program, which resulted in more than 110 anglers donating 1,620 fish frames or otoliths
  • three new drop-off locations (tackle businesses in regional areas) have increased the number of frame collection locations across NSW to 37
  • community engagement events to promote fisher participation
  • added deep water species to the frame collection list including Bass Groper, Banded Rock Cod (Bar Cod) and Hapuka.

Monitoring and research on landed fish at game fishing tournaments

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

Key achievements:

  • Pepperell Research staff attended 8 tournaments from Port Stephens to Shellharbour
  • 68 landed fish were measured, examined and sampled, which included 29 billfish, 19 tuna, 10 sharks, 10 other gamefish
  • scientists and postgraduate students from NSW DPI, Macquarie University, University of the Sunshine Coast and Pepperell Research used organs, tissues and parasites sampled at these tournaments for their research
  • all sampled tissues were added to frozen and preserved tissue banks for use in future local and global research projects.

Great Swordfish Race

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:

  • one swordfish tagged with a pop-up satellite tag deployed by an angler off NSW – fish and tag recovered by a commercial vessel
  • 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, with data shared through the trout fishery report cards, live fish counter, and the project website
  • development and continuation of tagging studies monitoring Murray Cod habitat usage and movements in Copeton Dam and the upper Murray River
  • monitoring of NSW impoundment fisheries for Murray Cod, Golden Perch, Australian Bass and salmonids through age and growth studies (using otoliths), hydroacoustic surveys, and genetic analyses.

Making more Maccas

Macquarie Perch, also known as Maccas, were popular for fishing but are now endangered due to habitat loss, introduced species, disease, and altered flow patterns. The Making more Maccas project aims to revive their populations and restore a recreational fishery for this unique species.

Key achievements:

  • supporting ongoing captive breeding of Maccas at the Narrandera Fisheries Centre with the production of more than 7,000 Macca larvae
  • continued stocking of Maccas into the Winburndale Dam and Rivulet, with monitoring showing great results with Maccas establishing well in both the dam and rivulet
  • more than 1,000 trout translocated from Winburndale to the Millpond and made accessible to recreational fishers
  • eDNA surveys of the Kangaroo and Shoalhaven Rivers undertaken to establish if Maccas are still present
  • monitoring of translocations in the Abercrombie and Retreat Rivers, with detection of recent recruitment in both systems.

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 for the marine stocking program:

  • more than 600 Dusky Flathead DNA samples (fin clips) provided by citizen scientists from stocked south-coast estuaries to help scientists monitor the contribution of released fish in these systems
  • stocking of 1,500 tagged juvenile Dusky Flathead into Lake Macquarie allowing NSW DPI to track their growth and movement throughout the estuary
  • tracking of hatchery-reared juvenile Mulloway, tagged with acoustic transmitters, showed they preferred deep water habitat compared to wetland creeks within the Hunter River.

Key achievements for the freshwater stocking program:

  • development of a monitoring program to examine the effectiveness of stocking sub-adult Murray Cod (e.g. fish above 30 centimetres)
  • development of a program to evaluate the success of Brook Trout, Tiger Trout and Atlantic Salmon stocking to create boutique and unique fishing opportunities in NSW. This included providing rapid feedback on Atlantic Salmon to key stakeholders, managers and hatcheries to allow an informed decision to be made on production
  • continued monitoring of the stocking effectives of warm water Rainbow Trout in the Snowy Lakes.

Fish Screens Australia

The roll-out of modern fish protection screens for irrigation pumps and channels has continued this year. This technology protects fish and farms, by keeping fish in waterways and debris out of water infrastructure. Fish Screens Australia is supporting adoption and uptake, as irrigators and other water users transition to this new, best practice for accessing water. The support of recreational anglers has been instrumental.

Key achievements

  • water users in the Northern Murray-Darling Basin responded enthusiastically to an Expression of Interest for screen installations across the Mehi River and Barwon-Darling upstream from Wilcannia. More than 49 pumps across 16 sites are being assessed for screen installations to protect nearly one million native fish annually
  • new social research, in partnership with Charles Sturt University, into the attitudes, motivations and abilities of water users allowed the development of targeted engagement strategies to support incentive programs for modern screens
  • modern fish-protection screens have been integrated in major policy instruments in NSW, including the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s Native Fish Recovery Strategy, the NSW Water Strategy, the NSW Ministerial Taskforce for Fish Passage and the Northern Basin Toolkit.

2022-23 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 2022-23 Annual Report