2023 Update

The 2023/23 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey has commenced. DPIRD conducts statewide surveys every 2–3 years to collect information from recreational fishers about the frequency and location of their fishing activity, the species they catch and how many were kept and released, as well as other social and economic questions.

Interviewers from the ECU Survey Research Centre will be contacting fishers by telephone to ask about their fishing.

The success of this survey relies on the cooperation of the recreational fishing community; whether you fish a lot or only occasionally. We would really appreciate your help if you are contacted for this survey. Information from this survey will be compared with previous surveys to improve our understanding of recreational fishing in Western Australia.

About the survey

Western Australia boasts a wide range of fantastic recreational fishing opportunities. One of the State’s most popular pastimes, more than one in four West Australians fish recreationally at least once a year, which generates $2.4 billion to the state economy, and has social and wellbeing benefits.

With increasing population and environmental changes, we need to manage our natural resources carefully to ensure there are fish for the future. We work closely with peak fishing recreational body Recfishwest and the recreational fishing community to ensure the WA fishing experience remains both enjoyable and sustainable.

Recreational fishing is a highly valued resource in the WA community, and its sustainability is vital to ensure it can continue to occur in the future. By collecting a variety of data on recreational fishers and their catch, we can improve our understanding of recreational fishing activity.

Our surveys complement the many other assessments we carry out, providing us with an even clearer picture of the health of our aquatic resources. Ultimately, this information is critical to help us manage the State’s aquatic resources more effectively and ensure recreational fishing in WA remains some of the best in the world.

To ensure sustainable management of fisheries resources and ensure quality recreational fishing opportunities, it is important to have accurate and up-to-date information on recreational fishing activity.

Survey objectives

The primary objectives of the Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey are to determine measures of recreational fishing activity at statewide and bioregional levels for the 12-month period from 1 September 2023 to 31 August 2024, including:

  • participation (by number of licence holders)
  • effort (boat days and hours fished)
  • catch for all species (kept, released and total by number) and
  • harvest for key species (by weight).


At the completion of the survey period, the data will be analysed before a final report is produced and made publicly available. The results from this survey will be incorporated into future stock assessments and harvest strategies to benefit the recreational fishing sector by ensuring WA fisheries are managed in a sustainable way.

Survey design

The Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey uses three complementary survey methods. When combined, these methods improve data accuracy and reduce any biases caused by survey sampling. 

The three complementary methods include: 

  1. off-site Telephone Surveys provide estimates of fishing effort and total catch for key species
  2. on-site Boat Ramp (Access Point) Surveys to provide average weight of key species and 
  3. Remote Camera Surveys to provide an understanding of where and when boats launch and retrieve at key boat ramps in WA.


Recreational fishers are interviewed during boat ramps at the end of their fishing trip to collect information about the time and place they fished, and the species they caught. Sometimes our researchers also measure and weigh the recreational catch. Remote Cameras are positioned at many boat ramps along the WA coastline to record boat launches and retrievals 24/7.

The Telephone Survey will be run in three phases:

  1. Screening Survey – from June to September 2023, recreational fishers who possess a current licence will be randomly selected and asked to complete a short questionnaire to determine whether they have been fishing recently, and whether they intend to fish during 2023/24.
  2. Diary Survey – for 12 months from September 2023 until the end of August 2024, recreational fishers participating in the diary survey are regularly contacted via phone to collect effort and catch information for each of their fishing trips. These fishers are provided a Survey Kit containing a Diary Card, Recreational Fishing Identification Guide and Recreational Fishing Location Guide.
  3. Post Enumeration Surveys – from September 2024 to December 2024, recreational fishers are asked about their satisfaction and motivations, fishing-related expenditure and fishing vessels during the previous 12 months, and their opinions of various fishing-related matters.


What information is collected?

Data collected to help us monitor and sustainably manage recreational fishing activity include:

  • the number of licence holders who fish
  • how often they fish
  • where and when they go fishing
  • how much time they spend fishing
  • how often they fish the new artificial reef sites
  • what fishing methods they use
  • key target species
  • species caught and number kept and released
  • fisher satisfaction and motivation
  • fishing-related expenditure
  • size of recreational fishing vessels.


Who do we survey?

A random selection of Recreational Boating Fishing and Rock Lobster licence holders are chosen to voluntarily participate in the Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey. Our data collection methods are optimised to collect representative data from fishers and the fishing they do.

With the participation of licence holders in our surveys, we can collect a large and diverse array of data so that we can comprehensively understand WA’s important species and fishing activity. Using these licence databases is the most cost-effective way of collecting information on recreational fishing behaviour.

How do we contact fishers?

Telephone surveys have been used to monitor recreational fishing data in WA since 1999. Some surveys involve one call to a fisher at the end of a fishing season to find out how well fishers did. In the Statewide Recreational Fishing Surveys, fishers agree to receive regular phone calls over a 12-month period regarding their fishing activity.

Survey interviews only take a few minutes to complete and interviewers are recognisable by their number (08) 6304 4100. Should you wish to contact ECU Survey Research Centre, please call (08) 6304 2100. The information collected is critical in maintaining a sustainable recreational fishery into the future.

How is this research funded?

This research program is funded in part by the 125,000 Recreational Boat Fishing Licences issued in 2022/23. The survey is a collaboration with Edith Cowan University and Recfishwest. We thank all the recreational fishers who participate and volunteer their time – this survey wouldn’t be possible without you. The telephone component of our Statewide Recreational Fishing Surveys is conducted by the Survey Research Centre at Edith Cowan University on behalf of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. The ECU Survey Research Centre is a respected research organisation with over 10 years’ experience in conducting recreational fishing surveys.

Privacy and Consent

All surveys are conducted on a completely voluntary and confidential basis. DPIRD researchers and ECU Survey Research Centre interviewers all abide by the Australian Privacy Principles. Off-site sampling for the Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey was conducted in accordance with approval of the ECU Human Research Ethics Committee (2010-6146 and 2020-1512). All information collected from our surveys is treated as confidential and will never be used or published in any personal way. The information recreational fishers provide is aggregated and weighted to provide statewide and bioregional information. The results of our surveys may be presented at workshops or published in departmental reports and professional journals.

More Information
We value questions that the public may have about this survey. If you have queries or need more information about the Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey, please email research.survey@dpird.wa.gov.au or call Hillarys Reception on (08) 9203 0111.