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Thirty years down the line - Decline of recreational fishing in the Blackwood Estuary, Western Australia

Beckley, L.E. and Prior, S.P. (2007) Thirty years down the line - Decline of recreational fishing in the Blackwood Estuary, Western Australia. In: AMSA2007, 9 - 13 July, Melbourne, Australia.


The current status of the recreational fishery in the Blackwood Estuary was quantitatively assessed via a boatbased creel survey and compared to historical data collected in 1974-75 (Caputi 1976). Current catch rate, species composition and size frequency of the catch were determined from interviews with 1 200 angling parties during 2005-06. Fishing effort was greatest during the summer and over the Easter holidays when there were influxes of tourists to the region. The retained catch, comprising 17 species, was dominated by yellow fin whiting (Sillago schomburgkii, 47%) and Australian herring (Arripis georgianus, 17%). Non-compliance with minimum legal length regulations was common, particularly for King George whiting (Sillaginodes punctata) and Australian salmon (Arripis truttaceus). Although current total annual recreational fishing effort (72 000 angling hours) was remarkably similar to the effort recorded in 1974-75, the total recreational harvest has declined significantly. The current catch rate of 0.835 (±0.044) fish retained per angler per hour is only 20% of that recorded in 1974-75. Although the effects of fishing in nearshore and estuarine areas are difficult to distinguish from other human-induced changes to the environment, the marked decline in recreational catch and catch rates in the Blackwood Estuary is cause for serious concern.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
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