Tactical Research Fund: Economic assessment of the impact of recent major changes to fisheries management in the WA West Coast demersal wetline fishery
University of Western Australia (UWA)
The West Coast demersal wetline fish stocks are currently overfished. The best assessment calls for an immediate 50% reduction in the catches of Category 1 “high risk” species. New management initiatives are being implemented across the commercial, recreational and charter sectors to secure the necessary catch reductions. The success of these initiatives depends upon each sector responding appropriately. Early assessment of the impact of these changes and the response of each sector is essential. The time for this assessment is now, as the changes begin to take effect, in order that an early understanding of the reactions of fishers and the likely long-term impacts can be formed. The new restrictions will impact significantly on recreational fishing over the next year, therefore, there is a pressing need to understand how the sector responds in terms of behaviour, catches, and overall satisfaction with the fishing experience. The proposed recreational fisher survey is designed to meet this requirement, so that the early operation of the new regime can be measured, and compared to the pre-change situation captured in a similar survey funded under FRDC 2001/036 undertaken by Nicholls and McLeod. Knowledge about changes in behaviour and satisfaction with the fishing experience are crucial to understanding the impact of the changes. Department of Fisheries estimates show that the commercial catch has been brought within the desired range. There is now a need to assess how these changes have impacted upon the commercial viability and social dynamics of coastal harbour towns. No pre- and post-change comparisons have been undertaken, a deficiency that the proposed data collection is designed to address. The role of the Charter sector and its response to management changes is an integral part of the project. All components of the project are designed to deliver the required information in a timely fashion.
1. Determine the change in profitability of commercial wet line vessels operating in the west coast wet line fishery under the new management arrangements for the 3 year period 2004-07 (prior to the new arrangements) and 3 year period (FY 2008-11) after their implementation.
2. Determine the range in responses of a sample of charter boat owners and their clients to the fishery management changes introduced in the west coast wet line fishery in 2009 (interim and additional) and the impact on client satisfaction and on their businesses
3. Determine the range in responses of a sample of recreational fishing boat owners to the fishery management changes introduced in the west coast wet line fishery in 2009-11 (interim and additional) and the impact on the frequency of their fishing activities in the 2008-12 period
4. Conduct a socio-economic impact assessment of the three sectors as a result of fishery management changes introduced and a scenario analysis of the likely impact of the alternative management options on 3-4 West Coast study towns with boat harbours
Principal Investigator: Paul McLeod
Key Words: recreational choice, catch rates, bag limits, closed season, West Coast Demersal, Scalefish
Summary: To date, this project achieved the following outcomes
1. Developed a model of recreational fisher behaviour to explain how recreational fishers could be expected to react to changes in fishing regulations.
2. Completed two surveys of recreational fishers in the 2010 and 2011 seasons to document changes in fishing behaviour as a consequence of the new fishing rules and the closed season for the West Coast Demersal fishery and compared the results obtained to those from a previous survey of recreational fishers undertaken in 2003 when no such restraints existed.
3. Analysed survey results to show how fishing trip time and satisfaction with catch and experience attributes were affected by the changes to fishing rules and provide estimates of the impact that changes in expected catch rate would have on the number of fishing trips.
4. Analysed survey data to show how the two month closed season has changed fishers’ behaviour.
5. Incorporated the results from the initial 2010 survey into analysis of recreational fishing behaviour for the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) project on recreational fishing and presented the results at the WAMSI public forums on research outcomes.
6. Undertook direct interviews of commercial fishers, including charter boat operators in the fishery and supplemented this with analysis of log book data.
7. Documented the impact of the changes to commercial fishing rules on financial performance and presented data on the adjustments that commercial fishers had made to their operations to secure better outcomes under the new rules.
8. Estimated how recreational fishing expenditure changed as a consequence of the management changes and estimated the employment impact of the commercial sector as part of understanding potential socio economic impacts
9. Incorporated these findings into the WAMSI project and presented the results at the WAMSI public forums on research outcomes.
10. Project results have been delivered to date through a number of seminars presented at the Western Australian Department of Fisheries and at WAMSI research forums. Internationally project results have been presented at the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IFFET ) conference in 2010.