Fisheries Research Articles

Geostatistical tools to assess shifts in recreational fishing

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Marine and Freshwater Research


Print: 1323-1650 Electronic: 1448-6059


angling, catch rate, centre of gravity, fisheries management, fishery-dependent data, geostatistics, hotspot, index of collocation


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology


The use of geostatistical indices to examine fishery-dependent data over time is novel. We assess the value of a range of these indices for describing trends in boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia and areas of high effort and catches for two demersal species with varying biological characteristics, life histories and distributions. The number of blocks (10- × 10-nautical mile (~19- × 19-km) area) visited decreased by 40%, while the number of fishing trips with demersal species catch increased by 15%. Spatial indices showed a south-easterly shift in demersal catch per unit effort (CPUE) across survey years. The southerly shift of West Australian dhufish (Glaucosoma herbraicum) CPUE and subsequent return to the north likely to reflect the response of this temperate species to a marine heatwave. In comparison, CPUE of retained Baldchin groper (Choerodon rubescens) shifted north, whereas released catches shifted south with high probabilities of hotspots present associated with habitat structure. We identified hotspots of retained and released CPUE, highlighting potential areas where species experience high post-release mortality through barotrauma, and targeted spatial management strategies. Spatial indices allow quantitative definition of the structure of the fishery, identify high catch areas, and assess changes over time at a broader scale to sustainably manage multispecies fisheries.