Our site is currently being updated and pages are changing regularly. We thank you for your patience during this transition and hope that you find our new site easy to use.

Results of the 2013-14 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey

2013-14 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey

The 2013-14 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey provided detailed information on how many Queenslanders fished recreationally, how much time they spent fishing and what they caught. It also collected information on boat ownership and fishing and diving club membership. These results will be of use for stock and sustainability assessments, helping to ensure that fisheries in Queensland are managed on an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable basis.

Some of the key findings of this survey were: 

  • Approximately 15% of Queenslanders 5 years or older were recreational fishers
  • Recreational fishing continues to be a very popular outdoor recreational activity, particularly in the north of Queensland
  • From November 2013 to October 2014, Queensland residents fished for approximately 2.5 million days in Queensland
  • Fishing with a line was the most popular method 
  • Around half of all fish effort was shore based (the other half was boat based)
  • Yellowfin bream was the most commonly caught fish by number

Survey design

As with the 2010–11 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey and the 2000–01 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, this survey used a telephone–diary method to estimate the fishing activities of Queenslanders. From late August to October 2013, approximately 15 000 randomly selected households across Queensland were called by telephone interviewers and asked whether they had fished recreationally in the previous 12 months and if they intended to fish in the next 12 months. Households that intended to fish were invited to take part in a 12-month telephone-diary survey, which ran from 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2014. Approximately 91% of fishing households agreed to take part in the diary survey. All fishing information was collected by trained telephone interviewers who called fishers at least monthly, and ensured that all information was recorded accurately.

This survey sampled households all across Queensland and information is reported by residential or fishing region. In previous surveys (2000–01 and 2010–11), nine residential regions were reported on. In this survey, some of these regions were subdivided to create 16 residential regions which better separated the urbanised and rural regions of Queensland. Fishing activity was reported against 19 fishing regions, which is consistent with previous surveys.

  • Map of the 16 residential regions of Queensland used in the 2013-14 survey.
    Map of the 16 residential regions of Queensland used in the 2013-14 survey.
  • Map of the 19 fishing regions of Queensland used in the 2013-14 survey.
    Map of the 19 fishing regions of Queensland used in the 2013-14 survey.

Fishing participation rates

In the 12 months prior to September 2013, an estimated 642 000 Queenslanders went recreational fishing in Queensland, representing 15% of the Queensland population aged 5 years or more. This makes recreational fishing one of the most popular leisure activities in Queensland.

In this current survey, participation in recreational fishing tended to be lower in the urbanised centres of Queensland compared to their surrounding rural areas. Over one-third of all recreational fishers lived in the Brisbane region, but the participation rate among local residents was highest in the Mackay Hinterland and Far North Hinterland residential regions where 30% and 27.5% of the population were recreational fishers, respectively.

  • Fishing participation rates across the 16 residential regions
    Fishing participation rates across the 16 residential regions

More than twice as many males than females were recreational fishers, with the greatest number in the 30–44 years age group.

The participation rate was highest in the 5–14 years age group (21.7%) and lowest in the 60 years or more age group (8.7%). Looking at the number of recreational fishers by age group, we see a shift to the older age groups compared to the 2000–01 survey. Overall, we see small decreases in participation across all age groups.

  • Fishing participation by age group in the 2000-01, 2010-11 and 2013-14 surveys.
    Fishing participation by age group in the 2000-01, 2010-11 and 2013-14 surveys.

Boat ownership

Approximately 49% of fishing households owned a boat and most of these were 4–5 m powerboats. The proportion of boats used for fishing varied by boat size. Boats larger than 4 m were used for fishing to a greater degree than the smaller boats.

There was a substantial increase in the number of paddle-powered vessels or kayaks used for fishing compared to previous years. Echo sounders and GPS were used on most boats greater than 5 m, and electric motors were used on approximately 15% of boats less than 6 m long.

  • Percentage of fishing households that own a boat by residential region
    Percentage of fishing households that own a boat by residential region
  • Percent of boats used for fishing by size
    Percent of boats used for fishing by size

Fishing effort

During the 12 months between November 2013 and October 2014, Queensland residents fished for approximately 2.5 million days in Queensland. The South-eastern catchment fishing region accounted for 35% of all effort days. The Central Coast catchment and South-eastern coastal waters collectively accounted for 25% of all effort days.

Fishers who resided in the Far North Hinterland and Mackay-Whitsunday regions fished the most on average (4.2 days), followed closely by those residing in West Moreton (4.1 days) and Wide Bay-Burnett (4.0 days). Residents living in the Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay-Burnett regions were responsible for nearly 57% of all fishing effort. Fishers did travel away from their local area to fish, but most fished close to where they lived. The majority of fishing effort days occurred in estuaries or enclosed coastal waters.

  • Average number of days fished within each residential region
    Average number of days fished within each residential region
  • Number of fishing effort days by water body
    Number of fishing effort days by water body

Overall fishing effort was roughly equal between boat fishing and shore fishing. However, the relative importance of boat versus shore fishing varied across the 19 fishing regions.

  • Percentage of fishing effort days from the shore or boat by fishing region
    Percentage of fishing effort days from the shore or boat by fishing region

Summer was the most popular season to go fishing, accounting for approximately 31% of all effort days.

  • Number of fishing effort days by season
    Number of fishing effort days by season

Fishing catch

Resident recreational fishers caught a diverse range of fish. Yellowfin bream was the most commonly caught fish, with an estimated 1 156 000 caught. Whiting were the next most commonly caught fish, with an estimated 1 090 000 sand whiting complex and 679 000 trumpeter whiting caught. Flathead also formed a considerable part of the total catch, with approximately 412 000 fish caught, of which 85% were dusky flathead (352 000 fish).

Estimates of other commonly caught species were dart (352 000 fish), barred javelin (329 000 fish), pikey bream (234 000 fish), snapper (203 000 fish) and barramundi (174 000 fish). A large number of freshwater fish were also caught, with Australian bass (171 000 fish) and golden perch (146 000 fish) being the most common.

The recreational catch also included a large number of non-fish species, such as crustaceans (e.g. crabs), cephalopods (e.g. squid) and other taxa. Mud crabs were the most commonly caught non-fish species, with 1.7 million estimated to have been caught.

 

Catch

Harvested

Released

Species/group

Total

SE

Total

SE

Total

SE

Barramundi

#174 000

49 000

42 000

7 700

#132 000

44 000

Bream

1 417 000

144 000

397 000

44 000

1 000 000

107 000

Catfish

452 000

67 000

#37 000

10 000

415 000

66 000

Cephalopod

#26 000

7 800

#23 000

6 700

##

##

Cobia

#7 600

2 000

#5 400

1 600

#2 200

900

Cod and groper

242 000

29 000

36 000

5 100

206 000

27 000

Coral trout

170 000

28 000

103 000

18 000

66 000

14 000

Crab

1 976 000

233 000

457 000

55 000

1 500 000

187 000

Eel

#27 000

8 600

##

##

#25 000

8 400

Emperor

201 000

25 000

97 000

13 000

104 000

16 000

European carp

#50 000

18 000

#50 000

18 000

##

##

Finfish (other)

1 100 000

148 000

681 000

139 000

384 000

40 000

Flathead

412 000

81 000

139 000

17 000

#273 000

70 000

Freshwater bass, cod and perch

335 000

64 000

91 000

18 000

244 000

57 000

Garfish

#104 000

33 000

#94 000

32 000

#10 000

4 100

Grunter and trumpeter

143 000

32 000

#41 000

16 000

102 000

22 000

Herring and pilchard

#466 000

174 000

#361 000

133 000

#105 000

49 000

Javelin

383 000

80 000

107 000

20 000

276 000

65 000

Jewfish

#121 000

35 000

37 000

9 000

#84 000

31 000

Lobster

##

##

##

##

  

Mackerel

155 000

23 000

100 000

16 000

55 000

12 000

Mollusc

#560 000

190 000

#553 000

190 000

##

##

Morwongs and sweetlips

73 000

17 000

30 000

6 900

#43 000

13 000

Mullet

243 000

54 000

216 000

51 000

#27 000

8 200

Non-fish (other)

#12 000

3 900

  

#12 000

3 900

Parrotfish

53 000

10 000

30 000

5 900

#23 000

5 800

Pearl perch

#25 000

7 400

#11 000

2 900

#14 000

5 400

Pike

33 000

7 700

#14 000

5 100

#19 000

5 200

Prawn

2 400 000

550 000

2 300 000

545 000

#60 000

26 000

Shark and ray

193 000

28 000

#6 400

2 500

186 000

27 000

Snapper

203 000

43 000

#56 000

15 000

148 000

36 000

Tailor

170 000

40 000

#111 000

28 000

59 000

14 000

Threadfin and Australian salmon

#103 000

29 000

54 000

12 000

#50 000

21 000

Trevally and amberjack

520 000

111 000

#188 000

57 000

332 000

68 000

Tropical snapper and sea perch

653 000

61 000

216 000

24 000

437 000

47 000

Tuna

#13 000

4 400

#7 600

3 300

##

##

Whiting

1 783 000

214 000

997 000

164 000

785 000

88 000

Worm

##

##

##

##

##

##

Wrasse

#67 000

18 000

23 000

4 700

#44 000

17 000

Yabby (freshwater)

#520 000

175 000

#479 000

172 000

#41 000

16 000

Yabby (marine)

3 600 000

556 000

3 300 000

500 000

#318 000

148 000

Estimates without a # have Relative Standard Errors (RSEs) less than 25% and are considered good; # indicates the RSE is between 25% and 50%, and the estimate should be used cautiously; and ## indicates the RSE is greater than 50% and the estimate is considered unreliable for general purposes. Blank cells indicate no data were collected.

Many fish caught are later released. High release rates were reported for Australian bass, barramundi, crabs, cod, groper, javelin, pearl perch, sharks and snapper. Recreational fishers released fish for a variety of reasons, the most common of which related to the fish being too small or below a legal size limit. Catch-and-release fishing was also popular, particularly for freshwater species such as Australian bass.

The most popular water body for recreational fishing was estuaries and enclosed coastal waters, within which 57% of the total catch took place. This was followed by inshore (ocean) waters, which accounted for a further 27% of total catch. Of the total catch, 7% occurred in offshore (ocean) waters, while the remainder occurred in freshwater rivers, lakes and dams (public and private).

Nearly half of the total catch (46%) was taken by line fishing, making it by far the most popular fishing method.
Most fishers reported catching species found in their local region. Whiting (sand and trumpeter) were commonly caught by residents in the south-eastern residential regions (Gold Coast, Brisbane and Wide Bay-Burnett), while residents from the state's north (e.g. Cairns and Townsville) commonly caught reef species, such as coral trout and crimson and saddletail snapper.

However, people do travel to go fishing and fishers reported catching species that occur outside their residential region. For example, people living in the Darling Downs commonly reported catching sand whiting and yellowfin bream, which are marine species. Residents of the Central West/North West/South West region caught diverse species, such as golden perch (freshwater), coral trout (reef) and mud crabs (estuarine).

Full report of the 2013-14 survey

A report detailing the results of the 2013-14 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey is available from our Customer Service Centre.

Thank you recreational fishers

These estimates are derived from a survey supported by peak stakeholder groups. This information can help the recreational fishing industry and will assist in the sustainable management of our fisheries now and in the future.
This information would not be available without the honest and thoughtful participation in these surveys by Queensland's recreational fishers.

Last updated 07 December 2015