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Aerial Surveys Help Fishing Management

AUSTRALIA - Research, funded through the Western Australia Governments Natural Resource Management (NRM) strategy, is helping to fill knowledge gaps about shore-based fishing effort along Perths coast.

Department of Fisheries Supervising Scientist, Dr Dan Gaughan, said aerial surveys of beach fishing, with observers patrolling the coast between Lancelin and Bunbury, which is one component of a larger study, have now been completed.

“Many of the near-shore fish communities off the Perth coast in particular are targeted by both boat-based and shore-based fishers, but there is a lack of good data on the shore-based catch of recreational fishers,” Dr Gaughan said.

“We have been gathering data to better determine whether management arrangements to reduce the fishing pressure on off-shore demersal species may have shifted some recreational fishing effort to shore and near-shore areas. Data gathered during the demersal closed season was particularly important.”

Dr Gaughan said the A$300,000 project was continuing, using a more conventional land-based survey strategy. The ongoing data collection could be compared against the results of the aerial flights, as well as remote camera surveys, to assess the most cost-effective options for ongoing surveys of near-shore fishing.

“To effectively manage fisheries we need good knowledge about how and where people are fishing, so we can better manage popular fishing species,” he said.

“Around 80 per cent of the State’s recreational fishing effort occurs in the West Coast Bioregion and it is well understood the majority of that effort is focussed around Perth.

“A considerable number of people fish from the shore. They not only get out there to catch a feed, but also to enjoy the social and recreational aspects of beach fishing and it is important that we maintain that opportunity for future generations.”

Dr Gaughan said other ongoing research projects by the Department of Fisheries were examining the stock status for important shore based target species like herring, tailor and whiting.

“This NRM funded research will help us learn how we can cost-effectively measure the catch of shore-based fishers to ensure the needs of anglers can be met in a sustainable manner.”

A final report on the project is expected to be published in a few months, the initial report FRR 216 Quantifying recreational fishing catch and effort: a pilot study of shore-based fishers in the Perth Metropolitan area is available at www.fish.wa.gov.au.

the Fish Site Editor

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