Section 38
Chapter 37,813

An assessment of changes in the daytime recreational fishery of Lake Macquarie following the establishment of a Recreational Fishing Haven

Steffe, A.S.; Murphy, J.J.; Chapman, D.J.; Gray, C.C.

NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries Final Report Series 79 i-ii, i-viii, 9-103


Accession: 037812220

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Resource sharing and the allocation of fisheries resources between recreational and commercial user groups has long been a contentious management issue in New South Wales (NSW). The introduction of a general recreational fishing fee in March 2001 generated considerable funding that was used to undertake significant changes in the management of fisheries in NSW. Lake Macquarie was zoned a 'Recreational Fishing Haven' (RFH) following extensive community consultation. This management initiative changed the allocation of fisheries resources in this waterway between the recreational and commercial sectors. This major re-allocation of access to the estuarine fisheries resources in Lake Macquarie has undoubtedly created additional recreational fishing opportunities. Thus, there was an important need to assess whether the recreational fisheries in this RFH were improving and providing better quality recreational fishing. This report focuses on comparisons made between two separate daytime recreational fishing surveys of Lake Macquarie (including Swansea Channel). The first annual survey was done during the pre-RFH period (March 1999 to February 2000) and the second annual survey was done during the post-RFH period (December 2003 to November 2004). These annual surveys provide a snapshot of the recreational fishery of Lake Macquarie before RFH implementation and after RFH implementation. The same complemented, on-site, survey design was used in both surveys. The shore-based fishery was assessed by using a roving(effort)-roving(harvest) design combination and the boat-based fishery was assessed by using a roving(effort)-access(harvest) design combination using stratified random sampling methods. The two recreational fishing surveys provide evidence of a relatively productive recreational fishery in Lake Macquarie. Comparisons made between the two separate daytime recreational fishing surveys indicate that the post-RFH recreational fishery was very different to the fishery that had existed prior to the implementation of the RFH. We documented statistically significant increases in recreational harvest for some prized recreational species and also some significant decreases for some other important recreational species. Overall, the indicators of recreational fishing quality that we examined indicated that the post-RFH fishery had improved in many ways since the pre-RFH survey period. A summary of the evidence provided in this report is that: (a) the recreational harvest in both survey years was dominated by a relatively small number of taxa, however, the composition and relative contribution of these dominant taxa changed markedly between survey years. These changes occurred even though there was no significant difference between survey years in the total annual harvest, by number or weight, for the whole fishery; (b) the recreational harvest of dusky flathead, tailor, sand whiting and trumpeter whiting (number and weight) and large-toothed flounder (weight only) increased significantly during the post-RFH survey year; (c) the recreational harvest of common squid, yellow-finned leatherjacket and sand mullet, by number and weight, decreased significantly during the post-RFH survey year; (d) total fishing effort (boat and shore combined) showed little change (about 2%), however, different trends were evident in the boat-based and shore-based fisheries. Fishing effort in the larger boat-based fishery increased by about 13% but this change was not statistically significant. In contrast, there was a statistically significant reduction of about 22% in the level of shore-based fishing; (e) seasonal harvest rate comparisons between survey years tended to confirm the increasing or decreasing trends found in the annual recreational harvest estimates for the main species; (f) comparisons of length frequency information, mean and median lengths between survey years indicated that most species were harvested at larger sizes during the post-RFH survey year. The mean and median sizes of dusky flathead, sand whiting, tailor, common squid, yellowfin bream, blue swimmer crab, large-toothed flounder and sand mullet were all larger during the second survey year. This survey provides the first snapshot (point estimate) of the Lake Macquarie recreational fishery following the establishment of the waterway as a RFH. On-site surveys of recreational fishing are valuable tools for collecting information to describe the status of a fishery and any changes that may have occurred since previous survey periods. On-site surveys of the recreational fishery should be repeated regularly (every 3-5 years) to monitor the recreational fishery in Lake Macquarie. Assessment of the recreational fishery of Lake Macquarie - Steffe et al.

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