Understanding recreational fishers and their attitudes to conservation in Western Australia

Ms Asha McNeill1, Dr Julian Clifton1,2, Professor Euan Harvey3

1University Of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia, 2University of Chester, Chester, United Kingdom, 3Curtin University, Bentley, Australia


To address declining marine ecosystem health and biodiversity, governing bodies must employ policy to prevent harmful or damaging activities while maintaining a sustainable level of access for communities. Consequently, users who may have previously had access to marine resources may find restrictions on their activities, which includes individuals who fish for recreation. Recreational fishers are a key stakeholder group to consider in Western Australia, amounting to approximately 700,000 individuals in a population of 2.6 million. While stakeholder support for regulations is key to achieving success, various constraints serve to constrain recreational fishers effective participation in, and contribution to, marine policy planning processes, despite the disproportionate impact of regulations on their activities. An internet-based survey of 588 recreational fishers across WA was employed to assess fishers’ attitudes towards marine conservation and management tools. The survey was designed to collect information on fisher avidity, catch orientation and motivations in addition to attitudes toward management including marine parks, fisheries management tools and the government agencies responsible for them. Results show that recreational fishers are a diverse stakeholder group who are likely to be impacted in a variety of ways by marine policy. Responses also reveal the recreational fishing community are very supportive of the regulations used to manage their activities, while distrust is evident towards the state government agencies which regulate them. Together these results demonstrate the need to bridge the gap between the community and the management institutions and outlines opportunities to engage with recreational fishers in the future.


Asha McNeill is currently in the final stages of completing her PhD at the University of Western Australia. Her research is interested in community perceptions of fisheries management and marine parks policy.