ON November 1, 2015, three net-free zones were established in Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton.
The objective of the NFZs is to increase recreational fishing opportunities in Queensland, thereby supporting tourism and economic growth. Surveys undertaken in 2015 and 2016 examined whether recreational fishers’ satisfaction and expectations of fishing in NFZs changed following the introduction of the NFZs. Recreational fishers who had fished within the NFZs were asked a series of questions about their satisfaction with their recent fishing experiences, and their expectations about recreational fishing in the NFZs over the coming 12 months. The surveys were undertaken during November and December in 2015, and November and December 2016.
Recreational fishers’ satisfaction with fishing in the NFZs is generally positive and appears to be increasing. Overall, fishing satisfaction over the previous 12 months was greater in 2016 than in 2015. In Cairns and Rockhampton, satisfaction was similar between years, but in Mackay satisfaction was significantly greater in 2016.
In 2016, recreational fishers in the NFZs were more satisfied with the following activities compared to 2015:
• Experiencing exciting fights with fish;
• The number of big fish caught;
• The number of fish caught;
• The size of the fish caught; and
• Overall fishing in the area.
Keen recreational fishers had the biggest increase in satisfaction—mean satisfaction increased more than 25 percent from 2015 to 2016. Expectations varied depending on the NFZ and frequency of fishing. Interestingly, while catching a fish is important to recreational fishers, many people stated that it is not necessary for a satisfying fishing trip. Further satisfaction surveys will be undertaken in 2017, with the aim of developing a time series into the future.
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