Estimates of participation rates, catch and effort are essential for effective fisheries management. Such data are collected from the commercial fishery through logbook programs but are unavailable for the recreational sector in Tasmania. As many of the fisheries resources are believed to be either fully or over-exploited and as resource sharing and other management issues become increasingly important, so too does the need for total fishery data.
The size of the recreational catch is a major uncertainty in stock assessments of the main Tasmanian fisheries, i.e. scalefish, rock lobster and abalone. There are presently over 9000 recreational gillnet licenses in Tasmania, with an estimated effort, for the first part of the 1995/96 licensing year, of around 100000 net days. The impact on inshore scalefish stocks is unknown but is likely to be significant.
The move towards quota management in the Tasmanian rock lobster fishery has increased the need for accurate stock assessments on which to set catch limits. A complex model of the Tasmanian rock lobster fishery has been developed, with the size of the recreational catch an important input parameter.
The Tasmanian Government is developing management plans for all fisheries including the recreational fishery. The general lack of hard data for the recreational sector is making decision making difficult and uncertain. A number of important management changes are, however, proposed. Particularly significant are those that relate to the use of gillnets and include reductions in the number of nets per licensee and limits on the number of nets that can be used from a boat. If adopted, these changes are unlikely to become effective until the 1997/98 licensing year. Detailed catch and effort information prior to and following implementation of these changes will provide a unique opportunity to assess their effectiveness in reducing gillnet effort (and catch).