RFIDS: implications of climate change for recreational fishers and the recreational fishing industry

Project Number:



Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC)

Principal Investigator:

Colin Creighton AM

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





Climate change is manifesting in marine environments. Additional to climate variability there is documented shifts in ocean currents - temperature, behaviour and spatial impact. Biotic indications eg species changes in abundance and range suggest impacts are at a level greater than for terrestrial ecosystems and uses. Coupled with this is the common property nature of fisheries resources. Management imperatives are already upon Government and all key sectors - conservation, commercial and recreational fishery management and aquaculture. The first two challenges are to - a) smartly adapt to biotic changes and variations in abundance b) foster a more flexible and responsive approach to marine management. Climate change is a political issue - the public policy issue that has been most incompetently dealt with by Australia's political leaders. Community understanding of the complexities of climate change and how Australia should respond is varied with multiple areas for confusion and misunderstanding. Additionally, those promoting a mitigation response have been alarmist in their predictions - well beyond the science evidence. With this confusion as to the implications of climate change and options for adaptation and mitigation strategies, informed debate is extremely difficult. The recreational fishing sector is no different to the wider community. Given the economic and social importance of recreational fishing in Australia, there is a national need and strong regional demand for strategies and adaptation activities and management systems that respond wisely to climate change. The second two challenges are to: c) ensure accurate information on climate change information is available and is placed in context with other aspects such as habitat loss and water quality d) foster knowledge and adaptation strategies from within the recreational fishing sector so that the sector can play its role in advocacy and public policy development.


1. Through case studies of vulnerable species in each of the three regions this project will explore and propose activities and strategies such as improved fisheries management measures which could be adopted to assist agencies, recreational fishers and the recreational fishing industry adapt and deal with climate change impacts

2. Explore climate change adaptation responses and move towards regional arrangements that foster a more flexible and responsive approach to recreational fisheries and fisher needs.

3. Identify high priority mitigation opportunities so that the recreational fishing sector can contribute to the global issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Final report - 2011-037-DLD - Climate Change and Recreational Fishing: implications of climate change for recreational fishers and the recreational fishing industry

Final Report
Author(s):Colin Creighton
Date Published:July 2013
Principal Investigator: Colin Creighton

Keywords: climate change; recreational fishing; adaptation; mitigation; vulnerability; regional management

This report is the first national perspective of the implications of climate change on recreational fisheries and the recreational fishing industry providing a platform for further discussion of the ecological impact on species and evaluation of adaptation and mitigation options.

Highlighted that, with climate change will come increasing climate variability and stressors such as changing sea level, it is recognised that everything we can do to ensure resilience of fish populations is essential. 

Highlighted the need for monitoring to focus on data that can be used to better predict the future, especially in the areas of recruitment and recording species outside their normal range. These are areas where recreational fishers can play a role in data collection. 
Recognition of the need for greater flexibility and responsiveness in fisheries management and to move to a whole of stock management approach as climate change alters the dynamics and distribution of fish stocks. 

Recognition that understanding and mitigating the impacts of climate change on recreational fishing has some important human dimensions, such as understanding the choices fishers make in response to climate change and the flow‐on effects of these choices.