Fishwise Community Grants - 2009 Funding Round

Fishing is fun for all the family

Lead Agency: Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA)
Funding: $11,842.00
Start Date: 01 October 2010 End Date: 28 February 2011

  • To show fishing is fun and accessible for people of all ages and most areas in Tasmania.
  • To explain the resource is precious and we have management rules that ensure sustainability.
  • To detail the basic rules such as bag limits, size limits and seasons. Many fishers are unlicensed and difficult to contact directly; that is why this booklet is important. There are also issues such as health warnings on eating fish from the Derwent that would be included. There is currently no way to fully inform the public of these issues.
  • Show them how to catch a fish, release it unharmed if appropriate, or dispatch it ethically.
  • Explain Fishcare Volunteers, how you could be one, and how to contact them for help and advice. Also other places to go for advice. This includes AFTA tackle stores; who can give appropriate advice, and also handout brochures and up-to date advice they receive from DPIPWE Recreational Fisheries.
Final Report

What did the project achieve?

The "Fishing in Fun" booklet is an informative pamphlet that has a variety of fishing information for the basic fisher, particularly for fishing families and beginner fishers. The distribution is comprehensive, around 136,000 households, covering all Tasmanian localities. This project achieved all it set out to do. It will benefit recreational fishing by making information more widely available than by any other method. This booklet potentially reached over 90% of the Tasmanian population.

Other sectors that may benefit include those such as:

  • 'At Risk' and marginalised sectors of society that would find fishing distracts them from drugs, graffiti, abuse etc. Diverting just one or more people to take up fishing can be significant. There are several programs worldwide that actively promote 'Get into fishing - not into drugs'. We are taking the subtle road here, but it is an underlying goal.
  • Quarantine - Included in contacts list.
  • Fishwatch - Include the direct contact number and this may result in more reporting of illegal activities.
  • Fishwise Grants would be mentioned so the Fishwise Grants system itself also would be mentioned.
  • Safe Boating is enhanced by including MAST weather numbers and other info.
  • Tackle industry through encouraging people to look at fishing as a recreation and visiting tackle stores for sound advice.
  • Tourism.
Fishing is Fun booklet cover

Click on image to download full report

Recreational gillnetting in Tasmania - an evaluation of fishing practices and catch and effort

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))Funding: $50,600.00
Start Date: 01 October 2009 End Date: 26 April 2012

The project will comprise of two components: the first will be a description of how recreational net fishing practices have changed in relation to management changes and target species availability; the second component will focus on participation, intensity of fishing, catch rates, and catch by netting for the 2009/10 licensing year. Specific objectives are:

1. Describe how net fishers have responded in their fishing practices to recent management changes.
2. Assess recreational gillnet catch (including by-catch) and effort levels by region and season.

Final Report
What did the project achieve?
The use of gillnets by recreational fishers is permitted under licence in Tasmania. There are two classes of recreational gillnet; graball and mullet net which are distinguished based on mesh size. Graball nets must have a mesh size between 105-140 mm, be no deeper than 33 meshes and no longer than 50 m. Mullet nets must have mesh size between 60-70 mm and not be longer than 25m. The licensing system for nets was introduced in 1995, at which time fishers were permitted to have up to two graball nets and one mullet net. In 2002 the maximum number of graball nets permitted per licence holder was reduced to one. Prior to the introduction of this measure the total number of gillnet licences issued each year had ranged between 8,900 and 11,000, averaging almost 10,000 per year. With the removal of the second graball net there was an initial reduction in licence numbers to 8,400, however, numbers have increased since then and in 2008/09 there were over 10,000 net licensed issued.

Significantly, over the past decade there have been a number of major management changes in relation to gillnet usage, largely designed to improve fishing practices and reduce wastage and impacts on non-target species. In 1998 a requirement was introduced that nets be marked as day or night sets to address the practice of leaving gillnets unattended for excessively long periods. In 2004 night netting was banned in all regions apart from Macquarie Harbour. Present regulations specify that gillnets must not be set between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise. In the 2009 Scalefish Review a proposal was put forward to implement a maximum soak time for gillnets as a further measure to improve fishing practices.

In addition to management changes, there have been conspicuous declines in the abundance of several key gillnet species, in particular blue warehou and bastard trumpeter, as well as increasing community concern about the potential impacts of gillnetting, both recreational and commercial. This latter consideration has been particularly evident in the debate surrounding the introduction of marine protected areas, with gillnetting singled out as a key threat to biodiversity.

In view of the above, there is an urgent need to better understand how recent management initiatives have influenced netting practices, and to objectively assess the impact of the method on target and non-target species. Fortunately, background information is available from surveys conducted during the late 1990's against which contemporary information can be compared.

The project provides a detailed assessment of current gillnetting practices and catch and effort and compares these with survey results from earlier years. Key findings:

  • Approximately 9,000 persons were issued recreational gillnet licences during 2010, however only 6,600 set a gillnet at least once during the year, resulting in an estimated 25,720 net-days of fishing effort. Graball nets accounted for 97% and mullet nets 3% of the total number of gillnet sets.
  • Gillnets captured 173,922 organisms, almost 65% were kept and the remainder released or discarded.
  • More than 70 taxa were caught by gillnets, including a diverse range of scalefish, sharks, rays, squid and crustaceans. Bastard trumpeter, blue warehou and wrasse dominated catches, collectively accounting for 45% of total numbers. Bastard trumpeter, blue warehou and Atlantic salmon represented over half of the total retained catch while wrasse, marblefish, various species of sharks and leatherjackets were the main by-catch species.
  • Recreational gillnet activity is focussed in the south-east, with the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and the south-east coast regions collectively accounting for around half of the state-wide catch and effort. Catch and effort levels were comparable (around 20%) between the east and west coast regions while the north coast accounted for around 10% of the gillnet activity.
  • In terms of catch weights, bastard trumpeter and blue warehou dominated, each accounting for around 30 tonnes in 2010. By comparison with commercial production, the recreational catch of bastard trumpeter was about three times greater than the commercial take whereas blue warehou catches were similar between sectors.
  • The median soak time was 3.5 hours, with 12% of the day-set soak times being less than 2 hours and 78% less than 6 hours. Soak times exceeding 11 hours for daytime sets accounted for 1% of the total effort. Overnight sets, which accounted for 8% of the total effort, were typically fished for periods of over 10 hours.
  • Bastard trumpeter and blue warehou were the most commonly cited target species with salmonids, mainly Atlantic salmon, or secondary importance as a target species for graball nets. By contrast, mullet nets were primarily used to target mullet, with only a small proportion of non-targeted effort.
Current findings were compared with previous surveys, encompassing a period of significant management change in relation to gillnetting practice.
  • The prohibition on night netting appears to have had a significant and dual impact on netting effort, not only has the ban achieved a marked reduction in the proportion of night sets (from 75% in 1997 to 8% in 2010) but there has been a concomitant and substantial reduction in recreational netting effort overall.
  • Linked to the decline in effort in recent years has been a more than halving of the retained catch, this decline being accentuated by a fall in catch rates. While variability in the abundance of target species has contributed to this trend (especially blue warehou), changes in fishing practices (no night netting, shorter average set durations, reduction in the lengthy of mullet nets, larger minimum size limits from some species influencing release/discarding rates, etc) have also been contributing factors.
  • Several characteristics of the recreational gillnet fishery have, however, remained consistent through time, including the relative distribution of effort around the state, the relatively between graball and mullet net effort, and the overall composition of the catch.
Recreational Gillnetting in Tasmania Report 2012
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The primary benefit of this project is an improved understanding of the status of recreational gillnet fishing in Tasmania, including an evaluation of the effectiveness and impacts of recent management measures and the provision of information necessary for stock assessment of key scalefish species.

By understanding the dynamics of the recreational fishery and its links and interactions with the commercial fishery, a basis for informed decision-making in relation to resource sharing and allocation has been provided.

The results of this study will also be incorporated in the Fishery Assessment.

Recreational Rock Lobster Survey Methodology Peer Review

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc. (TARFish)
Funding: $17,500.00
Start Date: 01 January 2010 End Date: 15 February 2011

  • Identify world's best practice methodology for recreational rock lobster catch estimation with resultant costs, benefits, capabilities, resources and limitations.
  • Identify areas where the current methodology can be improved given the available finite resources.
  • Understand if there are more cost effective methods available that provide the required confidence levels (statistical accuracy).
  • Evaluation of the current survey may assist TAFI in improving the survey in terms of scientific robustness.
  • All fishery stakeholders should have confidence in the survey outcomes and understand its capabilities, limitations and restrictions.
  • Identify the levels of estimated costs and methodologies associated with increasing the confidence levels (statistical accuracy) to a maximum of +/-5% of the estimated annual catch.
  • Understand the cost implications of having the same statistical accuracy for each of the 8 rock lobster areas.
  • Identify the optimum survey frequency given management plan and fishery assessment requirements. Should the survey be undertaken every 2 years or should it be aligned with Rule Reviews and fishery assessment needs.
  • Identify a recommended methodology that optimises resources and minimises diminishing returns.
Final Report
What has the project achieved?
  • The Project Manager identified a Professor Kenneth Pollock, Murdoch University as a suitably qualified expert consultant in the field of recreational fishing survey methodology and was accepted by DPIPWE and IMAS as suitably qualified to undertake the review.
  • Professor Pollock travelled to Tasmania from Western Australia to interview key stakeholders, namely TARFish, DPIPWE personnel and Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermans Association Executive personnel to gain background and stakeholder perspectives and issues with current method. He also reviewed the recreational rock lobster survey records and process with IMAS.
  • The Final report was accepted by TARFish Executive as meeting the requirements of the Fishwise Project Application. This report was tabled at the Recreational Fisheries Advisory Committee (RecFAC) in late 2010. RecFAC supported the report findings and noted confidence in the surveys methodology.
  • DPIPWE have provided Professor Pollock's report to Crustacean Fisheries Advisory Committee (CFAC) and requested their comment.
  • 200 copies of Professor Pollock's report have been printed and are in the process of being distributed at public events around the State. North Western Fisheries Association were provided with 20 copies in November. The Report has been posted on the TARFish website and electronically emailed to the TARFish membership base of over 1600 members.
  • As a result of this project DPIPWE and IMAS have incorporated minor amendments in the recreational rock lobster survey.
Review of phone survey of Tas recreational rock lobster fishery
Click on image to download full report
The project has noted that the current methodology has been found to be sound, scientifically based, methodical, structured and value for money.
Strengths of the current method include:
  • its reasonable cost for the large spatial scale covered;
  • relatively high response rates; and
  • relatively low response measurement errors.
Some weaknesses or potential weaknesses noted include:
  • possible response errors due to all data being self reported;
  • frame sampled has to be from the previous year's fishers rather than the current year's fishers;
  • the growing difficulty of using telephone surveys with the rise in mobile phone use.
It has been noted that the current survey was originally designed to provide statewide estimates and now is increasingly being used to provide regional estimates. If management of the fishery moves, as is expected, to a regional managed fishery then the recommendations support this decision in refining the survey methodology to support a broader management need.

The project Final Report has noted a number of recommendations on improving the current survey methodology and these will now be referred to the DPIPWE and IMAS for consideration in improving the current methodology.

The project has reinforced to stakeholders a heightened level of confidence in the current methodology undertaken by IMAS and the calculated annual estimate of recreational rock lobster catches. This is an important outcome given the rock lobster management plan review is currently under way. Extensive communication and distribution of Professor Pollock's Report has been used in our endeavours to increase public knowledge about the methodology and its applicability in the current environment.

The major benefits of this project will be linked to acceptance, and implementation, by DPIPWE of the recommendations that improve the management of this fishery given a broader regional management focus for the future.

TARFish Quarterly Bulletin

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc (TARFish)
Funding: $20,000.00
Start Date: 01 January 2010 End Date: 20 April 2011
  • Continue constant communication with recreational marine fishers throughout Tasmania.
  • Provide the opportunity for fishing related organisations, bodies and clubs to submit their content for inclusion in the quarterly bulletin. Organisations such as ANSA, Australian Underwater Federation, Game Fishing Clubs, Sea Charter Boat Operators of Tasmania, TAFI and Derwent Estuary Program have been offered space for articles and content.
  • Inform the general public interested in recreational marine fishing of relevant activity that is happening or is being considered.
  • Provide a communication channel for TARFish to inform of its activities in representing recreational marine fishers.
Final Report
What did the Project Achieve?
  • Production and distribution of four quarterly editions for 2010.
  • Regular communication to the recreational fishing community.
  • 6000 hard copies each quarter were distributed via 40 tackle/boat shops around Tasmania.
  • 1000 hardcopies were distributed each quarter to TARFish Members and at trade events such as Royal Hobart Show, Lindisfarne Boat Show, Deegan Marine Boat Show and various fishing competitions.
  • Bulletin was also distributed via email to TARFish members, contacts and Bulletin subscribers.
  • The recreational marine fishing community have been kept informed on relevant fishing activities and happenings throughout the State.
  • The Bulletin has promoted responsible fishing practices.
  • The Bulletin has provided non fishers with an understanding of the broad range of issues that potentially can affect marine resources and how the various stakeholders are involved and working together.
  • The Bulletin has kept recreational marine fishers informed on the activities TARFish is undertaking on their behalf.
Follow-up/ Future Activities
The production of the Quarterly Bulletins has now been identified and incorporated into TARFish's core business.

TARFish Bulletin April 2010
TARFish Bulletin July 2010
TARFish Bulletin October 2010
TARFish Bulletin December 2010

Redmap Community Awareness

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))
Funding: $10,337.25
Start Date: 01 February 2010 End Date: 20 April 2011

In Tasmanian waters at Maria Island are warming at more than three times the global average. The implications of this warming on our marine ecosystems is unclear as there is generally a scarcity of monitoring programs that are able to inform us of the impacts to marine life and ecosystems. Redmap aims to rectify this by providing a unique website to record and compile information on changes to species habitat ranges from a number of sources, including scientists and the fishing and diving community.

Through the provision of 'Redmap' signage we aim to increase the public awareness of the website and in turn ensure an improved capacity to capture information about the effects of climate change on our marine environment.

Final Report
What did the Project Achieve?

All permanent signs have been erected at 13 boat ramps around the State:
  • Southport
  • Margate - Dru Point
  • Eaglehawk Neck - Pirates Bay
  • Orford
  • Triabunna
  • Coles Bay
  • Bicheno
  • St Helens - Burns Bay
  • Bridport
  • Port Sorell
  • Smithton
  • Stanley
  • Strahan
Redmap banner sign Triabunna
Redmap Sign - Triabunna

One of the temporary core flute signs is being used by Fishcare Volunteers as part of their Fishcare display trailer; the other two have been used by the Redmap team at trade and public events such as the Bellerive Seafarer's Festival.

The boat ramp signs have been erected over the winter period in readiness for when recreational fishers will be heading out to sea in the warmer months. Therefore, the benefits of the signage will not become apparent until December 2010 and into 2011.

It is anticipated that the placement of the signs all around the Tasmanian coastline will improve website visits and sightings reported from areas outside the current key reporting area (Hobart and the south-east). Early in 2011 a formal review of Redmap and the effectiveness of the signage will be evaluated as part of that process.

Follow-up/ Future Activities
IMAS technical staff will be checking on the signs when they are on field trips in areas where the signs are located. Any missing signs will be reported to the project team and maintenance to signs will be carried out by technical staff.

Future activities identified are to produce more signs to be placed at commercial fishing wharves.

Social and Attitudinal Assessment of Recreational Fishers in Tasmania

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))
Funding: $16,990.00
Start Date: 01 July 2010 End Date: 7 June 2011

The overarching objective of the proposed project is to provide a social, attitudinal and economic characterisation of Tasmania's recreational fishers. A secondary objective is to determine if and how these dimensions have 'evolved' over the seven years between the two surveys.

This type of information will contribute to substantiating participant's practices and values as part of the Tasmanian community and economy. Understanding the emergence of 'trends' in social fishing participation, attitudes and opinions will compliment strategic planning and engender a greater level of preparedness. It is anticipated that the strong focus of the survey on understanding how fishers navigate management issues will provide information potentially enabling greater support and compliance with policy changes from fishers, and therefore a more inclusive approach to managing fishers. Results will also provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the dissemination of information and awareness materials, including Fishcare programs.

Final Report
What did the Project Achieve?
The project has achieved against all of the objectives and are detailed within the attached report.

Project has provided a profile of recreational fisher's motivations, attitudes and awareness that has been disaggregated by sub-population groups, providing a basis to better understand the diversity within the fisher population and facilitate more targeted education and awareness programs. Furthermore, comparisons with responses from the early 2000s have enabled the success of a number of government initiatives aimed at educating fishers and influencing behaviour to be evaluated.

Follow-up/ Future Activities
Follow-up attitudinal surveys will be undertaken as a component of future general fishing surveys to track trends in fisher motivations and attitudes/awareness over time.
Cover of TAFI Rec Fishing Attitudinal Survey
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Studying the spawning dynamics of striped trumpeter - direct implications for fisheries management

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))
Funding: $31,000.00
Start Date: 01 July 2010 End Date: 29 November 2011


1. Describe spatial variations in the spawning dynamics of striped trumpeter, including:
    • the onset and duration of the spawning season across the latitudinal distribution along the east coast of Tasmania;
    • spatial variance in the age at maturity;
    • size specific fecundity.
2. Develop yield and spawner per recruit models to assess maximum and minimum size limit scenarios - optimise size limit management regulations.

Final Report
Field work was completed in November 2010 and a representative sample of 600 fish was collected. Through leveraging TAFI core funds, particularly a significant contribution from the TAFI vessel charter budget we were able to increase the number of sites from 3 to five. These included: Banks Strait (NE), east of Bicheno (E), Tasman Peninsula (SE), Pedra branca (S) and northwest of Point Hibbs (W). Sampling was completed monthly throughout the spawning season (July - November) at each site, with the exception of the west and east coasts in July. The main findings were:
  • The timing of the spawning season closure is appropriate to provide protection to the spawning stock of striped trumpeter in Tasmania.
  • There is scope to re-assess the minimum legal size limit based on predicted size at 50% maturity. Currently fish are harvested prior to reaching this accepted benchmark size.
  • The size at 50% maturity for female striped trumpeter did not differ significantly from previous estimates providing confidence in this parameter.
  • A new recruitment pulse has entered the fishery which is a positive sign given the apparent lack of recruitment over the last 14 years.
Given that the size at maturity parameters were not significantly different from those presented by Tracey et al (2007), there was no need to re-run yield per recruit models as the results would be similar to those presented by Tracey et al (2007).

Fishwise Community Grants Research Report Cover
Click on image to download full report
  • Have informed on the timing of striped trumpeter spawning on the west, south, southeast, east and northeast coasts of Tasmania.
  • Have confirmed the size at 50% maturity for female striped trumpeter. Information important to setting an appropriate minimum legal size limit.
  • Has revealed evidence of recent successful recruitment of striped trumpeter.
  • DPIPWE have already communicated the findings and have flagged the future review of the MSL of striped trumpter in the 2011 sea fishing guide.
Follow-up/ Future Activities

Based on the findings we would suggest that it would not be necessary to repeat the destructive sampling to determine reproductive state during the 2011 spawning season for striped trumpter. The results of the new data align with historic data suggesting that there is little inter-annual variability in the timing of striped trumpeter spawning around Tasmania.

IMAS plan to initiate a non-destructive tagging program of striped trumpeter in 2011. We have developed a solid rapport with fishers around the state that are keen to once again participate in charter activities for striped trumpeter research. A tagging study would provide insight into the movement of striped trumpeter around the state, as well as monitoring of the size composition. This will is of particular relevance to track the new recruitment pulse.
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