Recreational Fisheries Research

What's the Catch - ​​​Recreational Fishing Survey

Over 3000 Tasmanian households were surveyed between December 2017 and November 2018 to see if they fish recreationally. Almost 600 of these households, representing 1500 people then provided details of their fishing activities over a 12 month period.

How much fishing is being done?

  • ​​Almost one in four Tasmanians or 106,000 people went fishing at least once.
  • They fish an average of 5 days per year.
  • Males aged between 45-59 represent the highest number of fishers.
  • Twice as many males (71,000) as females (35,000) went fishing.​

What’s the catch?

  • ​​Flathead continues to be the most popular recreationally caught fish in Tasmania, accounting for 70% of all finfish caught. Around 1.7 million flathead were caught with 56% released.
  • Sand flathead accounts for 96% of the flathead catch, with 3% tiger flathead and <1% bluespot flathead
  • Other important species were Australian salmon (130 000) and trout (206 000).

Catches of Recreational Scalefish 2017-18

​Species ​Caught ​Kept ​Released
​Flathead​1,700,000​733,000​948,000 (56%)
Trout​206,000​86,000​120,000 (58%)
Australian Salmon​129,000​81,000​49,000 (38%)
King George Whiting​24,000 14,000 ​41%
​Jackass Morwong
Silver Trevally
Sharks and Rays
​Leatherjacket14,900​ 7,500​49%​
Striped Trumpeter
​School Whiting
​7,400 ​4,600 ​36%

How much do fishers spend?

  • ​Around $161 million or an average of $1,800 per fisher is spent annually on boats, fishing gear and other items.
  • This amount includes $16 million on boating and fishing gear, tackle and bait.

Salt vs fresh water, boat or shore fishers?

  • Almost 75% of all fishing effort occurred in saltwater, with the rest being in freshwater.
  • 60% of fishing is boat-based and 40% is shore-based.

Fishing by region

  • Over half the state's total fishing effort (51%) occurred off the east and south-east coasts.

How are the survey results used?

The survey data is used in fisheries stock assessments together with commercial catch data to sustainably manage Tasmania's fisheries.

The survey results are available in several formats:

Download the What's the Catch mini-posterDownload Angling for Information the IMAS infographic brochure​Read the full IMAS report: 2017-18 Survey of Recreational Fishing in Tasmania

Recreational Rock Lobster Catch App Trial

During the 2021/22 and 2022/23 rock lobster seasons, recreational rock lobster fishers had the opportunity to voluntarily log their catch in an app. The research trial aimed to test the potential of an app for recreational catch reporting.

Feedback from the trial has informed the design of the of the Fishing Tas app, which fishers can use to report their rock lobster catch as part of new mandatory reporting requirements from 1 November 2023.

​​​​​​​​​​​Recreational Scallop Fishery​ Survey 2022

IMAS conduct surveys of long-term scallop sampling sites in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and have recently released the 2022 report.  This year, several sites at Bull Bay and White Beach were surveyed. The surveys were conducted using tow cameras, whereas previous surveys have been conducted by divers. 

There are signs of recovery for both commercial and queen scallops in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel but not to extent that justifies an open season in the Channel in the near future. This is important as this area is heavily reliant on self-recruitment and further rebuilding of adult stocks is needed before any fishing could be justified.

The White Beach area had patchy populations of scallops with signs that this popular area is being impacted by fishing pressure.

Read the full report​ here.

Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone: 2022-23 Catch Estimates

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) surveys a proportion of recreational rock lobster and abalone fishers annually including estimates of catch, days fished, and social information including stock status perceptions, fishing quality and management.

The survey uses the phone/diary method, where participants are contacted by phone then issued a diary to record their fishing details. They are contacted throughout the season by an interviewer who records their fishing details. This methodology has been independently confirmed as the most cost-effective way of accurately estimating catch.

Read 2022-23 IMAS report on the Tasmanian Recreational Rock Lobster and Abalone Fisheries.

Information Paper​ - Recreational Catch Tags

Catch tags have been promoted by some rock lobster fishers as a potential solution for managing recreational catch on the East Coast.

In 2016, NRE Tas undertook a comprehensive assessment of catch tags, including a cost benefit analysis and ​how catch tags are used in other jurisdictions both in Australia and overseas.

The assessment found that catch tags would be:

  • costly to implement and administer and;
  • unlikely to constrain the recreational rock lobster catch in the Eastern Region.


Other Recreational Fishing Research​

​​Licensing Evaluation for Tasmanian Recreational Fishing 2013

​Historical Baselines for Key F​ish Stocks in Tasmania 2013​


Recreational Fishing Enquiries
Level 3, 134 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3233, 1300 720 647


Fishwatch Report illegal fishing

0427 655 557

What to report? arrow button

Contact us

Recreational Fishing

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

Hobart TAS 7000

Phone: (03) 6165 3233, 1300 720 647


Commercial Fisheries

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550


Commercial Fisheries Licensing

Level 1, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550