Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Commercial and recreational harvest of fish from two Australian coastal rivers

RJ West and GNG Gordon

Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45(7) 1259 - 1279
Published: 1994


Commercial and recreational harvests of fish from two eastern Australian coastal rivers, the Richmond and the Clarence, have been compared for the period from March 1988 to May 1989, using commercial fisheries statistics and a roving creel census of daytime recreational anglers. For both rivers, sea mullet (Mugil cephalus) made up about 70% of the commercial catch by weight but was not caught in significant numbers by anglers. Fish species harvested in large numbers by both sectors were yellowfin bream (Acanthopagrus australis), dusky flathead (Platycephalus fiscus), luderick (Girella tricuspidata), sand whiting (Sillago ciliata), mulloway (Argyrosomus hololepidotus) and tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix). For the Richmond River, yellowfin bream, dusky flathead and tailor were harvested principally by recreational anglers; sand whiting were equally shared between fishing sectors, and harvests of luderick and mulloway were dominated by commercial fishers. For the Clarence River, which supports one of the largest estuarine-based commercial fisheries in Australia, tailor were harvested principally by recreational anglers; yellowfin bream, dusky flathead and mulloway were equally shared between fishing sectors, and sand whiting and luderick were taken predominantly by commercial fishers. Although data on recreational fishing throughout Australia are limited, anglers now appear to be the dominant harvesters of several estuarine fish species. As in other parts of the world, the numbers of recreational anglers in Australian waters appear to be increasing, and this situation is likely to lead to both heightened conflict between the user groups and increased exploitation of a limited resource. The need for sustained and cost-effective monitoring of recreational angler effort and harvests is emphasized.

© CSIRO 1994

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