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Using spatial surveys of visitors to better understand and manage recreational fishing in the Ningaloo Marine Park, north-western Australia

Smallwood, C.B., Beckley, L.E. and Moore, S.A. (2009) Using spatial surveys of visitors to better understand and manage recreational fishing in the Ningaloo Marine Park, north-western Australia. In: Australian Society for Fish Biology Annual Conference, 31 May - 5 June, Perth, Western Australia.


How visitors utilise multiple-use marine parks and their resources has implications for conservation and management. However, the collection of such spatial and temporal information at fine-scale resolution is rarely undertaken. The Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP) encompasses a diverse fringing coral reef system extending 300 km along the coast of north-western Australia and receives about 200 000 visitors annually. Geo-referenced aerial and land-based surveys were conducted throughout 2007 to identify patterns of human usage. About 14% of observations revealed participants to be engaged in an extractive activity such as line fishing or spearfishing which, except in sanctuary (no-take) zones, are permitted in the NMP. Mapping of fishing activity showed clear seasonal patterns with increased effort and spatial dispersion in the peak winter months as well as concentration in areas outside of sanctuary zones. During the same period, 1 200 face-to-face interviews were conducted to collect information on activity patterns as well as catch and effort data from fishers (24% of interviewees). More than 30 species were recorded in the catch and Spangled Emperor (Lethrinus nebulosus) was the most frequently caught species. Overall catch per unit effort was low (<1 fish/person/hour). People interviewed while fishing displayed a high level of knowledge on the location of sanctuary zones and the majority responded that the current zoning had not affected their fishing activity. This study is the first to comprehensively map the location of extractive activities along the shoreline and in the lagoon environment of the NMP as well as investigate the factors contributing to this distribution (e.g. access points and infrastructure). This information will allow managers to focus their resources for monitoring and management in appropriate locations.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Conference Website:
Notes: Oral presentation
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