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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 4 September 2018

Comprehensive recreational fishing survey moves to new online stage

​A new survey technique is underway this week to help compare data collection methods on what’s being caught by recreational fishers in Western Australia. 

The survey is the most detailed undertaken to obtain up-to-date recreational fishing activity that will help improve understanding of local fishing habits, preferred catches and the status of fish stocks across the State.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development senior research scientist, Karina Ryan said the survey information was vital for sustainable management of the State’s fisheries and to ensure WA’s recreational fishing status remains among the best in the world.

“Since 2011, the survey has been repeated every two years so catch estimates can be compared over time,” Ms Ryan said.

“The survey was initially made possible by the database created when the Recreational Boat Fishing Licence (RBFL) was introduced in 2010.

“Our newest component is a ‘post-enumeration survey’ that will compare response rates and results with data from the phone and log book surveys already carried out.”

For the online survey, randomly selected RBFL holders will receive an email with a link to the survey generated from our collaborative team at Edith Cowan University (ECU).

The comprehensive survey, which is expected to conclude around mid-December, is a joint project between the department, ECU and the peak recreational fishing body, Recfishwest.

Previous surveys of boat-based fishing have found the most commonly caught species overall was the blue swimmer crab, with western rock lobster next. The most commonly caught finfish across WA was school whiting, followed by pink snapper.

Ms Ryan said participation in the surveys was voluntary and confidential.

“We couldn’t achieve the results without the support of recreational fishers – and we appreciate their continuing support,” she said.

“The survey’s results complement the many other fish stock assessments that the department’s researchers undertake and provide another window into the health of our fisheries and aquatic ecosystems. 95 percent of WA fisheries are managed sustainably and operate with acceptable limits and this information gathering is vital in effective management of the State’s fisheries.”

For more information about our Statewide recreational fishing surveys, visit the department’s website at

Last modified: 4/09/2018 11:04 AM

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