Shore-based recreational fishing in the Perth Metropolitan area: 2022
Recreational fishing is a popular activity in Western Australia (WA), occurring throughout the state from boats, and from a variety of natural and man-made structures along the shore. Ongoing monitoring of the shore-based recreational fishery is essential to assist with resource allocation, management evaluation and stock assessments for nearshore species. Especially for species such as Australian Herring and Southern Garfish which had management changes including a reduction in bag limit from 30 to 12 in 2015 and closure of Perth Metropolitan waters in 2017, respectively. An on-site roving creel survey to collect effort and catch data from shore fishers has been conducted annually from February – June in the Perth Metropolitan area since 2014 and compared to a 2010 ‘pilot’ survey. Fishing effort for shore fishers in the Perth Metropolitan area in 2022 was 118,094 fisher hours (95%CI 73,391 – 162,796). This was steady when compared to 2021 (77,502 – 138,912) (as confidence intervals overlapped) and also 2010 (100,771 – 156,926). The retained catch (in numbers) was 140,734 (95%CI 67,448 – 214,020) in 2022, of which an additional 169,730 (101,370 – 238,091) was released. This was steady when compared to 2021 for both retained (73,317 – 130,397) and released (65,764 – 138,105) catch. Released catch was steady across all years, while retained catch in 2022 was lower than in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2017. The proportion of released catch increased from 17% (2010) to 54% (2022). More than 50% of fishing parties had caught or released a fish of any species in all survey years, with a high of 75% in 2022. Collectively, and across all survey years, the five key species of Australian Herring, Whiting spp. (Family Sillaginidae), Tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix), Western Australian Salmon (Arripis truttaceus) and Pink Snapper (Chrysophrys auratus) were targeted by >40% of shore fishers and comprised >70% of the retained catch. Australian Herring was the most commonly retained species by shore fishers in all years with an estimated retained catch of 9 t (95%CI 5 – 13 t) in 2022, which was lower than in 2010, 2014 and 2017. The release rate varied from 5 – 12% across years. The harvest rate (mean ± SE) was 0.7 ± 0.04 fish per fisher day, which was significantly lower in 2010, but remained steady from 2017 to 2021. Whiting spp. was the second-most commonly retained species by shore fishers with an estimated retained catch of 0.6 t (95%CI 0 – 1 t) in 2022, which has been steady since 2014. The retained catch for Southern Garfish has been negligible since 2014. The retained catch of Tailor, WA Salmon and Pink Snapper have been negligible across all survey years, except for the WA Salmon retained catch between 2015 – 2017, which saw a 25% increase in targeting during this time. Although up to 15% of shore fishers targeted Pink Snapper, the majority of catches were released (95 – 99%).