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

Facing up to the challenges of assessing Victoria's recreational fisheries   (#176)

Simon D Conron 1
  1. Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA), Queenscliff, VIC, Australia

Recreational, commercial and Indigenous fishing provide a wide range of social and economic benefits. In recent times, access and impacts on finfish stocks have also become weighted towards the recreational sector. This provides additional challenges for assessment of fish population status, because in general catch and effort for recreationally dominated fisheries is not routinely reported.  In the 2014 and 2018 Victorian state elections, the elected government committed $81 million towards recreational fishing, in the hope to grow participation to one million anglers by 2020.


To ensure that resources are managed sustainably, a strong evidence base, informed by knowledge of the stock status, is required. In the 1990's Victoria’s fisheries management agency recognised that phasing out of commercial fishing activities over time, combined with population growth and increasing recreational fishing would mean that fisheries assessment and management could not rely solely on commercial fishery data. Further, there was a need to include recreational fishery data into assessments to fully capture fishing effects on stocks. Consequently, angler-based monitoring programs were developed and implemented, and have been operational since the late 1990s. In considering Victoria’s recreational fisheries and the most cost effective methods to collect data, “face to face” creel/catch surveys are focused on the largest fisheries where species with high vulnerability. The timeseries sampling approach has allowed catch survey information to be used by:

  • Track changes in stock abundance and by target species
  • Measure the performance of the fishery across a range of groups with various fishing experience and expectations
  • Assess the performance of current and proposed bag and size limits
  • Provide the necessary recreational fishery catch data for the implementation of the fishery management plans, harvest strategies and stock assessment reporting

Over the last two decades there have been many challenges and learnings from delivering this data collection and assessment approach.