Statewide Recreational Fishing Surveys

How many Tasmanians go fishing each year, what do they catch and where do they fish? How much do they spend on fishing?
A statewide recreational fishing survey is conducted every five years by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. The surveys are funded by recreational fishing licence fees.

Recreational Fishing Survey 2017-18

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 during the survey period.
  • 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).

Top 3 fish recreational fishing survey 2017-2018

Top 3 recreational finfish caught in Tasmania during the 2017-2018 survey period, flathead, Australian salmon and trout

​ ​ ​ ​                  Catches of Recreational Scalefish 2017-18

​Species ​Caught ​Kept
​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


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 is the survey information used?

The survey results are 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 - November 2019 (124 pages)
Copies of the survey results mini-poster What's the Catch? are available at Fishcare events around the state including AgFest and the Liawenee Trout Weekend.


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