Implementation of the National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey

Project Number:



Department of Agriculture; Water and the Environment

Principal Investigator:

Stan Jarzynski

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





Equitable fisheries management requires an information base on all extractive and non-extractive users of the resource. This has been well implemented for the commercial fishing sector where legislated catch and effort returns are standard practice. However, many inshore fisheries incorporate a significant recreational sector and efforts to collect comprehensive data from this sector have generally been ad hoc, responding to critical management needs rather than an orderly, routine monitoring program. Although increased research effort has been allocated to recreational fishery data collection, a national assessment of the sector has not recently been attempted. The only previous national survey in Australia was conducted in 1983 by PA Management Consultants. Their results drew widespread attention to the scale and economic impact of recreational fishing in Australia and, although subject to some criticism, are still cited today despite the passage of 15 years. An urgent need therefore exists to produce relevant and up to date recreational fishery statistics. The adoption of the National Policy by SCFA and MCFFA recognises this need and has provided the impetus for the work of the Steering Committee to date, and for this application to implement the National Survey. The primary focus of the Survey is to collect nationally consistent and comparable data on catch, effort, participation rates, demographics, economic activity, attitudes and awareness covering all aspects of ‘non-commercial’ fishing. These comprehensive datasets will then be available for incorporation into stock assessments of the nation's fisheries and resource allocation decisions. In addition to the telephone / diary survey of the general population, two other components of the overall Survey are being designed – development of a survey of indigenous communities and of international visiting fishers. While these latter components will have different value to each State and Territory, the combination of recreational, indigenous and international fishing data will provide a comprehensive picture of non-commercial fishing, and allow exhaustive analysis of the extractive sectors of Australia’s fishing resources.


1. To determine the participation rate in recreational fishing nationally, by States and Territories and regionally, and profile the demographic characteristics of recreational fishers

2. To quantify catch and effort of the recreational fishing sector nationally, by States and Territories and, where appropriate, regionally

3. Collect data on expenditure by the recreational fishing sector nationally and regionally.

4. To establish attitudes and awareness of recreational fishers to issues relevant to their fishery

5. To quantify fishing activity by indigenous fishing communities (where significant) in terms of participation, catch and effort and attitudes

6. To quantify fishing activity of overseas fishers in terms of participation, effort and attitudes

National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey

Final Report
Author(s):Stan Jarzynski
Date Published:March 2012
A national survey of recreational and indigenous fishing was conducted in Australia during 2000-01. The survey was a joint initiative of Commonwealth and State governments. Grants from the Natural Heritage Trust, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, State and Territory fisheries agencies supported the project. The national survey was a multifaceted project designed to provide a range of information about non-commercial fishing in Australia. The project comprised three independent surveys, the National Recreational Fishing Survey, the Indigenous Fishing Survey of Northern Australia and the Overseas Visitor Fishing Survey. Different methodologies and analytical approaches were required for each of these surveys, reflecting their varying characteristics. A telephone/diary survey methodology was developed to collect information on recreational fishing in Australia with non-response and behavioural biases being assessed by a suite of innovative follow-up surveys. Modified on-site survey techniques were used to collect information from indigenous fishers in northern Australia while an existing survey instrument developed by the Bureau of Tourism Research was used to obtain information on overseas visiting fishers.

Key Words:  recreational fishing, survey, Australia, participation

The 2000-01 National Recreational Fishing Survey - Economic Report

Author(s):David Campbell and Jeffery J. Murphy
Date Published:June 2005
This report is a companion to The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, released in July 2003 (Henry and Lyle), which provides a detailed background for the survey and the methodology used to collect recreational fishing data. The economic results released in July 2003 are examined in more detail in this report and some revisions have been made. This report refers only to the recreational fishing component of the 2003 report. For reasons of completeness, the expenditure information presented in the 2003 report is included in this report.

Catch all the fishing facts and figures - A survey of recreational fishing in Australian from 2001-2002

Date Published:June 2005
Catch all the fishing facts and figures - A survey of recreational fishing in Australian from 2001-2002.