Project number: 1998-169
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $168,029.00
Principal Investigator: Stan Jarzynski
Organisation: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
Project start/end date: 7 Sep 1998 - 30 Jun 2000


Fisheries management requires an information base on all extractive and non-extractive users of the resource. This has generally 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 data from this sector have generally been as a response to critical management needs, rather than an orderly, routine monitoring program. (It is noted, however, that some States have made progress towards routine data collection). Many States have conducted surveys of parts of their recreational fisheries but have not had the resources to survey whole fisheries. This total fishery information is most important for resource allocation and stock assessment.

Further need for a National Survey has arisen from the increasing numbers of recreational fishers (evident from NSW surveys), their apparent greater impact and knowledge (due to increasing technological improvements and knowledge) and the increasingly political nature of the resource allocation debate (e.g. black marlin).

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 criticism, are still cited today despite the passage of 15 years, due to the lack of alternative data.

An urgent need therefore exists to produce relevant and up to date national recreational fishery statistics on resource use and participation. 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 develop the National Survey to a stage ready for implementation. (It should be noted that this application refers only to development of the Survey - the implementation phase is a separate project which is intended to follow development and would be subject to separate funding applications).

The primary focus of the Survey is to collect nationally consistent and comparable data on catch, effort, and participation rates, in all 'non-commercial' fishing. The results of the Survey will complement the research activities at State level by adding a significant layer of information about recreational fishing activity at the macro level, as well providing detailed catch and effort data on individual fisheries (planned for high levels of precision (cv < 20%) for fisheries at the level of 1% of State recreational harvest which can often be cost-prohibitive to survey in isolation). In addition, and importantly in some fisheries, data is also to be collected from the indigenous and overseas fishing sectors. These sectors have generally been ignored in other resource allocation research activities but are considered to contribute significantly economically and/or biologically to some fisheries.

The Feasibility Study prepared by Kewagama Research detailed the overall survey methodology which has been adopted by the NRFSSC. This concept now needs to be developed into working documents (e.g. interviewer manuals, questionnaires, workflow plans) and sampling plans ready for implementation by the States and Territories. Additionally, database and analytical tools need to be developed for ready implementation, and the training of key personnel is needed in each State and Territory.

The expertise for preparation of this material is not universally available, although more generalised expertise in recreational fisheries research does exist in each State and Territory. The preferred approach is therefore the establishment of a core development team with relevant expertise to prepare all material for implementation of the Survey. The team would work closely with representatives from each State and Territory to ensure their needs were met.

In addition to the telephone / diary survey of the general population, two other components of the overall Survey were agreed to by the NRFSSC - development of a survey of indigenous communities and of international visiting fishers. These components require more fundamental development as they have been only broadly discussed, designed and costed. 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 complete analysis of the extractive sectors of Australia's fishing resources.


1. To develop/refine the output specifications (as per Feasibility Study), sampling design, questionnaires and other survey instruments for a national screening and diary survey of recreational fishers
2. To develop/refine the output specifications (as per Feasibility Study), sampling design and survey instruments for a survey of indigenous fishing communities
3. To develop/refine the output specifications (as per Feasibility Study), sampling design, questionnaires and other survey instruments for a survey of visiting international fishers
4. To pilot test the questionnaires and diary instruments on a small sample in each State / Territory
5. To train a key Survey Manager in each State / Territory in the conduct of the different survey components
6. To develop database systems for data entry, editing and storage of survey information, and analytical tools for analysis and reporting
7. To prepare final documentation for the implementation of a National Survey by all States and Territories (including indigenous communities and international visitors where appropriate) and final costings

Final report

Author: Stan Jarzynski
Final Report • 2000-10-10 • 16.59 MB


The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey (National Survey) is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments to obtain fisheries statistics to support the management of non-commercial fishing in Australia.  The National Survey has been progressively developed by a Steering Committee for the past four years.  A feasibility study was conducted in 1997-98 to select an appropriate survey method for Australian recreational fisheries.  It recommended a national telephone screening/diary survey with on-site field surveys and separate components for visiting international fishers and certain indigenous fishing activities.  Final development of the National Survey was undertaken during 1998-99 by a Working Group comprising specialist fisheries agency/consultant staff.  Funding for the development phase was provided by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) (Fisheries Action Program) and State/Territory fisheries agencies.

The objective of the development phase was to advance the National Survey concept (as per the feasibility study), into working documents and sampling plans ready for implementation by the States/ Territories.  This required finalisation/ refinement of the output specifications sampling design, questionnaires and other survey instruments for the three major components of the National Survey: the Recreational Fishing Survey (including On-Site Surveys); the Indigenous Fishing Survey; and the Visiting International Fisher Survey.  The survey instrument was to be pilot tested on a sample of the general community and the fishing population in each State/ Territory.  Key National Survey staff in each State/ Territory were to be trained in the conduct of the various survey components and database management systems, final documentation and costing for the implementation of the National Survey prepared.

To undertake this work, the Working Group adopted a transparent and inclusive approach where inputs were sought from all fisheries agencies and key stakeholders (including peak recreational and commercial fishing bodies).  The nature and progress of the project were also broadly publicised to these organisations and through the fishing media.  Although six formal workshops/meetings were held throughout the project to discuss and endorse progress, much of the work was necessarily conducted out-of-session.  A multi-tasked approach was employed where individual members and small teams were assigned specialist tasks/responsibilities, including for particular survey components (e.g. the Indigenous Fishing Survey) and areas of technical expertise (e.g. statistician).  In such cases and throughout the project generally, extensive consultation occurred within the group and externally (expert colleagues/stakeholders).

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