Spatial and temporal patterns of recreational angling effort in a warm-temperate Australian estuary

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Bucher, DJ 2006, 'Spatial and temporal patterns of recreational angling effort in a warm-temperate Australian estuary', Geographical Research, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 87–94.

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Among the critical issues for the management of estuarine fish resources is the need to adequately identify the extent of use by recreational fishers, and the allocation of the resource between recreational and commercial users. Recreational anglers in estuaries often target a similar range of estuarine fish species to commercial fishers. Prior to the declaration of ‘recreational fishing havens’ (estuarine waters closed to commercial netting but remaining open to recreational angling) in many New South Wales (NSW) estuaries in May 2002,the estuary of the Manning River on the central NSW coast supported the tenth most productive commercial estuarine net fishery in the State. To quantify the recreational angling effort in the Manning River estuary, progressive counts were made of shore-based and boat-based anglers from a small power boat from June 2001 to May 2002. Sample days (eight per month) were chosen in a stratified random fashion, taking into account the proportions of weekends, public holidays and school holidays in each month. The total recreational angling effort exerted on the estuary for the 12-month period was 144 892 ± 3248 anglerhours, indicating a low to medium effort compared to other NSW estuaries of similar size. Over half of the effort was exerted in the section nearest the northern entrance at Harrington. There was relatively little variation in shore-based angling effort throughout the year, whereas boat-based fishing increased markedly in summer. Months that coincided with NSW school holidays were most popular, especially January. More recreational fishing effort was exerted in the afternoons than in the mornings during winter, but this trend was reversed in summer. Although daily effort was much higher on weekends than weekdays, the total cumulative effort was generally similar, due to the greater number of weekdays in the year. Pilot studies of catch per unit effort indicate that the recreational catch in the Manning River estuary is probably small compared to the pre-closure commercial catch. Therefore management strategies aimed at limiting the recreational catch are likely to have minimal impact on fish stocks in the estuary when compared with regulation of the commercial sector.

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