Standard Talk (15 mins) Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

Keynote: Does survey mode matter? Four cases studies comparing fisher demographics and fishing activity from telephone and web-based recreational fishing surveys (#174)

Karina Ryan 1 , Eva Lai 1 , Claire Smallwood 1 , Lachlan Strain 1 , Stephen Taylor 1 , Fabian Trinnie 1 , Kate Stark 2 , Sean Tracey 2 , Jeremy Lyle 2
  1. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Hillarys, WA
  2. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart

Surveys have an important role in providing reliable recreational fishing data to inform fisheries policy. Globally, studies have highlighted the increasing difficulty in locating participants along with declining interest in survey participation. While the data collection tool (survey mode) can influence the potential for errors, there is an increasing expectation to adopt digital technology for the recreational sector. Digital platforms, including PCs, tablets and mobiles, are becoming widely used and it is important to test whether these approaches introduce bias and can be integrated with current surveys. Four case studies are presented to compare traditional telephone surveys with a variety of contact methods to invite participants to complete a web-based survey for boat-based, rock lobster, marron and abalone licensed recreational fisheries in Western Australia. Each study compares response rates, fisher demographics and fishing activity as reported using telephone and web-based survey modes. These studies demonstrate web-based surveys can achieve a high number of completed interviews with comparable fisher demographics, but with lower response rates and varying levels of coverage of the target population. The potential benefits and limitations of web-based surveys requires further attention to ensure digital survey modes can be adopted in a manner than provides reliable survey data from which robust estimates can be obtained. Potential benefits of web-based surveys, such as lower cost and efficient resourcing, should be considered along with potential limitations, such as lower response rates, self-reporting, higher respondent burden and accessibility to digital platforms. These case studies have broad application to recreational fishing surveys conducted in other regions, particularly when evaluating the impact of contact methods on survey data, or when transitioning data collection approaches in ongoing surveys.