Fisheries Research Articles

Thermographic cameras reveal high levels of crepuscular and nocturnal shore-based recreational fishing effort in an Australian estuary

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

ICES Journal of Marine Science


Print: 1054-3139 Electronic: 1095-9289


Portunus pelagicus, angling, electronic monitoring, fishing surveys, infrared


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology


Although recreational fishing at night is a popular activity, crepuscular and nocturnal fishing effort and catches are often unaccounted for in fisheries assessments. Here, we present a method for estimating 24-h shore-based recreational fishing effort involving the analysis of data from dual-lens thermographic cameras. Cameras were installed at three sites along the foreshore in Peel-Harvey Estuary, a Ramsar Wetland in Western Australia. Stratified random sampling was used to select days for image analysis between March 2015 and February 2016 and examination of images enabled fishing effort to be calculated for the 12-month period. Crepuscular recreational fishing effort at the three sites ranged between 4.5% and 11.3% and nocturnal recreational fishing effort ranged between 6.1% and 26.9% of total recreational fishing effort. Crepuscular and nocturnal recreational fishing were more prevalent between November and March and occurred on both weekdays and weekend days. The majority of recreational fishers identified from the day-time images (96.5%) were targeting blue swimmer crabs (Portunus armatus) using scoop nets. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that most crepuscular and nocturnal activity involved the same method of fishing. The results demonstrate that restricting onsite recreational fishing surveys to daylight hours can lead to large underestimates of total fishing effort and total recreational catches within a fishery. Our method can easily be applied to other fisheries to justify the inclusion of night-time onsite sampling and to design cost-effective sampling strategies.