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

Keynote: Integrating recreational fishing into harvest strategies: what do recreational fishers want and do we have the data to achieve it? (#175)

Ashley Fowler 1
  1. NSW DPI Fisheries, Mosman, NSW, Australia

Recreational fishing (RF) is a popular activity that has substantial ecological, economic and social impacts and benefits. Yet, inclusion of RF in fishery harvest strategies is limited, because the sector's objectives are poorly understood, as are the data requirements for monitoring their performance. The result is a constrained ability to develop equitable management arrangements that reflect the activities of all sectors participating within a fishery. We addressed these knowledge gaps through numerous studies based within the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), which has a large RF sector. The studies aimed to: 1) identify RF objectives, 2) define whether they could be addressed within harvest strategies, 3) link them to existing and emerging RF data sources in NSW, and 4) develop quantitative performance indicators for monitoring and assessing fishery performance within a harvest strategy. Literature searches and workshops with experienced recreational fishers identified a broad range of RF objectives, many of which were social and lie outside the scope of a traditional harvest strategy. However, RF ecological objectives often overlapped with other fishing sectors and could indirectly achieve some RF social objectives (e.g. ‘trophy’ fishery), potentially allowing consolidation of RF objectives within harvest strategies. Numerous RF data sources were available in NSW to monitor ecological objectives, providing time-series and potential reference points for key indicators such as catch-per-unit-effort. However, the precision of these data sources varies considerably among stocks. Research to date supports the need for early engagement with the RF sector, to identify their objectives, and a step-wise approach for reviewing the suitability of existing RF data for harvest strategies.