Recfishers spend $2.4 billion a year on great fishing experiences

Wednesday, 6 March 2019
  • New report shows WA recreational fishers spend $2.4 billion on their fishing-related activities
  • Recfishing supports local hospitality, tourism, boating and retail businesses
  • McGowan Government growing recfishing to support WA jobs and the economy

A new landmark study has revealed almost a third of people in Western Australia go fishing and spend $2.4 billion a year on fishing-related activities.

The report delves into what recreational fishers spend on trips to get to their favourite fishing spot – everything from bait, ice and food, to boat and travel expenses.

The Economic Dimensions of Recreational Fishing in Western Australia report, undertaken by Economic Research Associates, found the biggest spend was for food and drink, with recfishers spending a whopping $605 million a year.

Fishing and tackle shops turnover about $159 million a year from recfishers on gear expenditure, while spend on bait and ice topped $244 million. The report also found the average annual spend of boat-based fishers is $13,559 (not including the boat purchase), while the average shore-based fisher spends $2,253 per year.

The McGowan Government has been delivering on its election commitments and made significant investment towards new recreational fishing opportunities in the past two years. This includes funding for rock fishing safety, the commercial buyback of fisheries in the Peel-Harvey Estuary and Derby, a new metropolitan artificial reef, a 12-month lobster season and funding to upgrade boating facilities.

The report was funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, which uses money from fishing licences to fund projects that benefit recreational fishing in WA.

The report is available at


Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“Recreational fishers make a significant contribution to Western Australia’s economy, and support economic activity in many regional towns on the coast and near inland fishing spots.

“This new report demonstrates recfishing provides support for many local businesses including retail, hospitality and tourism businesses, which in turn supports local jobs.

“Western Australia is a beautiful place and we are lucky enough to have some amazing fishing spots all over the State.

“Recreational fishing is a popular pastime and has great potential to become a tourism drawcard, encouraging more people to visit our great State in search of the perfect catch.”


Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

“Western Australians love their fishing, it’s part of our culture and lifestyle, and as this report shows recfishing is also important for our economy.

“In the past two years, this Government has improved recfishing experiences in WA by securing funding to Recfishwest and recreational fishing initiatives, committing to more artificial reefs, upgrading boating facilities and promoting safe fishing practices.

“As a Government, we want WA’s recreational fishing experience to get even better and build on our reputation for having some of the most sustainable fisheries and being one of the best places in the world to fish.

“From the tropical waters of our State’s north, to the temperate waters in the southern regions, the range of fishing on offer in WA is unparalleled. That’s why we want to build our recfishing tourism potential and make WA the place where the world comes to fish.”


Breakdown of recreational fishing spend by region:

  • Gascoyne region – $27.5 million spent a year
  • Goldfields region – $146.6 million spent a year
  • Great Southern region – $45.8 million spent a year
  • Kimberley region – $184.1 million spent a year
  • Metropolitan region- $1.1 billion spent a year
  • Mid-West region – $76 million spent a year
  • Peel region – $217.2 million spent a year
  • Pilbara region – $189.8 million spent a year
  • South-West region – $305.6 million spent a year
  • Wheatbelt region – $42.9 million spent a year.

Premier’s office – 6552 5000

Fisheries Minister’s office – 6552 6100