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

Moving from paper to digital data collection for recreational fishing: the Fisheries Queensland Boat Ramp Survey experience   (#153)

Tonia L Sankey 1 , Jonathan Staunton-Smith 2 , Peta J Schofield 3 , Malcolm G Pearce 1 , Tyson S H Martin 1 , James A Webley 2 , Kirrily L McInnes 2 , Lucy X Evans 2 , Fernanda deFaria 2
  1. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Fisheries Queensland, Cairns, QLD, Australia
  2. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Fisheries Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  3. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Reporting Information and Digital Solutions, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

We present Fisheries Queensland’s experience in replacing paper-based data collection with a digital data collection App within a large, diverse casual workforce across Queensland. We explain how the rollout was performed and what the keys to successful uptake were.


Fisheries Queensland employs over 40 casual workers to conduct boat ramp surveys at 48 boat ramps across Queensland. The Boat Ramp Survey Program has been running for over 15 years and collects recreational fishing data that supports stock assessments and contributes to the sustainable management of Queensland’s fisheries. The Boat Ramp Survey casual work force is diverse in age and background and technical ability. It is currently managed remotely by three staff, one based in Cairns and two in Brisbane.


To address the challenge of accurate, timely, consistent data reporting, Fisheries Queensland developed an electronic data collection platform called “Fish MoDE” (Fishery Monitoring Data Entry) to replace paper-based data collection. Fish MoDE collects data on recreational fishing and uploads to databases in close to real time. During 2021, Boat Ramp Survey staff across the state were trained in Fish MoDE, and paper data sheets were retired.


The successful rollout of Fish MoDE has improved data quality and reduced staff time spent chasing and checking paper data sheets manually. Boat Ramp Survey interviewers conduct data verification in Fish MoDE via data checking prompts and outlier flags. They can link fish photographs with fisher interviews, further improving species identification. The streamlining of on-site data quality mean that data are uploaded and arrive at databases with reduced errors, and post-upload data checking time has been substantially reduced in the process.


Electronic data collection is a priority for many monitoring programs. Fisheries Queensland has implemented an electronic data collection platform that has resulted in improved accuracy and improved timeliness.