Key Messages From The National Rec Fishing Survey


Participation in fishing

  • Participation rates are highest for:
    • Males
    • Those aged 30-44
    • Those who live in regional areas
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • 4.2 million Australians (21%) participate in fishing
  • Northern Territory has the highest participation rates, but a smaller population
  • Eastern states have lower participation rates, but bigger numbers due to a larger population
  • There were 28.6 million fishing events in 2018-19

Popularity of fishing

  • Fishing is the 10th most popular recreational pursuit, roughly equivalent to cycling

Contribution to Australian Economy

  • Recreational fishing contributes over 100K jobs and 11 billion dollars to GDP
  • $8.7b of the fishing related GDP occurs in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland
  • A high proportion of the jobs are in regional areas
  • Recreational fishing plays an important role in redistributing wealth from cities to regions

Social Licence

  • Fishing is seen as a socially acceptable pastime by 79% of Australians
  • The acceptability of fishing as a recreational pursuit is highest among:
    • Those who live in regional areas
    • Households that include individuals who fish
  • Fishing has one of the highest rates of acceptance among common activities

Contribution to Wellbeing

  • Recreational fishers have a significantly higher level of wellbeing than the general population
  • Fishing plays an important role in the lives of people experiencing stressful events such as divorce, loss of a loved one etc.
  • A high proportion of fishers view fishing as a way of maintaining family and social connections
  • Fishers who participate with friends and family have higher wellbeing

Physical Activity

  • Recreational fishing plays an important role in increasing the activity levels of Australians
  • Fishing is especially important for increasing activity levels of over 65’s

Environmental Stewardship

  • Recreational fishers identify as good environmental stewards
  • Fishers contribute to the health of the environment through:
    • removing rubbish they see whilst fishing
    • donating to organisations that improve aquatic environments
    • participating in cleanups, habitat restoration and pest fish management
    • reporting environmental problems and illegal activities.
  • The majority of fishers understand how to fish responsibly

Citizen Science

  • The majority of recreational fishers support citizen science, including:
    • reporting their catches to better understand fisheries
    • reporting sightings of key aquatic species
    • reporting sightings of birds and other marine life
    • uploading of fish images to contribute to stock assessment
    • collection of water samples for analysis

Impacts of Covid and bushfires

  • Participation in recreational fishing was impacted by Covid and bushfires but returned to previous levels 


Dr Andy Moore

Fisheries Biologist & Obsessed Angler

Andy started fishing at a very young age and became a lure fishing convert when, as a thirteen year old, he met and had the opportunity to fish with Vic McCrystal. He’s since fished all over Australia and overseas using lures and flies. When he’s not fishing Andy is just as passionate about his work as a Fisheries Scientist, where he’s researched Eastern Cod, studied the impacts of exotic fish on our native population and grappled with assessments of fish stocks and recruitment.

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