Researchers tap into fisher wisdom to support bream stocks

May 3, 2018

Clara Obregón with a black bream

Fine fishing: Researchers, including Clara Obregón, want to know why fishers like to target bream

If you have a passion for black bream fishing, Murdoch University researchers are seeking your views.

The team of scientists and economists are investigating the social and financial value of fishing for the popular species in various locations in WA, and have created an online survey to understand the reasons why fishers target bream.

Black bream are one of the most popular catches for fishers in estuaries across southern Australia. They are relatively long-lived fish (up to 40 years), can be caught throughout the year and require a certain skill level to catch them. They are also one of the tastier species found in the South-West.

The questionnaire was developed using information given in more than 100 detailed interviews with fishers at popular bream fishing spots, including the Swan-Canning Riverpark in Perth, the Wilson Inlet in Denmark, the Peel Harvey Estuary in Mandurah and the Blackwood Estuary in Augusta.

Murdoch University environmental management expert Dr Michael Hughes said the researchers wanted to know what makes a fishing trip successful for fishers.

“For some, just spending time in the outdoors will be enough, but for others, catching as many bream as is legally allowed will equate to a good trip,” he said.

“Understanding the expectations of fishers is valuable for managing the future of black bream fisheries in WA and ensuring the social values are maintained as an important part of the fisheries.”

Project lead Dr James Tweedley added: “Bream are a strong drawcard to towns like Augusta and are part of what makes them popular tourist destinations. The survey results will help us understand what bream fishing is worth to those communities, and guide their future management.”

PhD candidate Clara Obregón said the team also wanted to know what fishers think of restocking fish populations.

“Murdoch researchers collaborated with the South Metropolitan TAFE to culture 220,000 black bream which were then released as small juveniles into Blackwood Estuary in 2002-03,” she said.

“These restocked fish are still being caught today. We want to know what fishers think are the benefits of restocking.”

The survey is completely anonymous and can be accessed here. It should only take 10-15 minutes to complete.

Initial results from a survey of blue swimmer crab fishers conducted earlier this year have indicated the activity is socially orientated, with fishers revealing the activity gives them the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. The survey results also showed that people were motivated by eating their catch. More details about the survey results can be found here.

The surveys are part of a three year study investigating the social and economic aspects of blue swimmer crab and black bream fisheries, entitled Golden Fish.

The project is funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian Government. The Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, a joint initiative by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Recfishwest and Murdoch University, has also provided funding for the project.

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