Fisheries Journal Articles

Benefits of a restricted spatial and temporal survey design for determining average weight of recreational catches

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Fisheries Research




Recreational fishing, probability-based randomised survey, targeted survey, boat angling


Aquaculture and Fisheries


Surveys of recreational fishing are conducted in many jurisdictions to provide catch estimates, usually measured as number of individuals. Converting these catch estimates to weight is necessary for comparability with catch data from other sectors to support resource allocation and other management strategies. Weight data are rarely obtained during these surveys to minimise respondent burden and accommodate the logistical and resource constraints on the survey design. On-site Boat Ramp Surveys of boat-based recreational fishers for this purpose were implemented across four marine bioregions in Western Australia in 2011/12 using a randomised design (12-months) and in 2013/14 using a randomised design restricted to peak periods of fishing activity (4-months). Both surveys achieved high response rates (>97%) and, even though the 2013/14 survey was implemented for a shorter time period, it obtained a greater number of measurements (>10,000) than in 2011/12 (>5,000). Data were collected from >280 species (or family groupings), with more individuals measured in every bioregion in 2013/14 when compared to 2011/12. Average weights were calculated for 30 key species aligned with fisheries management, of which 75% of nearshore and 30% of demersal species had significant differences between fishing seasons and survey years. Reasons for such differences may be due to biological factors (i.e., migration), fisher behaviour (i.e., avidity) or management actions. Implementing recreational fishing surveys with the specific aim of obtaining data on average weight for this sector is rare. Average weights calculated from both designs can be used to provide current estimates of catch (by weight) for comparison with other sectors, thereby reducing reliance on secondary data sources drawn from different spatial areas, temporal periods or related species. However, the restricted survey design was more cost-effective (AUD16 vs AUD46 per individual measured) and obtained higher samples from a broader suite of species. This design is therefore recommended for the future collection of weight data, especially in locations that are remote from major population centres and have highly seasonal peaks in fishing activity.