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Quantifying the historical development of recreational fisheries in Southeast Queensland, Australia

Carolina Chong-Montenegro*, Ruth H. Thurstan, John M. Pandolfi

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Recreational fisheries are of global socio-ecological importance and contribute significantly to local economies and fisheries harvests. In some regions of Australia, organized recreational fishing activities have existed for over 150 years. However, historical understanding of the spatio-temporal development and resource usage of recreational fisheries has been hampered by the lack of continuous time-series catch and effort data. This study used historical newspaper articles of reported landings by fishing clubs to reconstruct catch rate trends and evaluate changes in catch composition of marine recreational fishing activities in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia, from 1920 to 1984. Using generalized additive mixed models (GAMMs), two catch rate metrics (number fish fisher-1 trip-1; kg fish fisher-1 trip-1) were constructed as functions of time and distance travelled. Significant nonlinear relationships were found for n fish fisher-1 trip-1. Fluctuations in n fish fisher-1 trip-1 were strongly influenced by time, while increases in distance travelled predicted larger n fish fisher-1 trip-1. Kg fish fisher-1 trip-1 was tightly linked to increases in distance travelled but did not vary with time. Spatial analysis revealed shifts in areas fished, from inshore reefs during the 1920s and 1930s (pre-WWII), towards isolated offshore island systems in later decades (>1950s; post-WWII). Reported catches pre-WWII were strongly associated with reef species, while reported catches post-WWII were predominantly characterized by demersal coastal fish. Spatially resolved time-series fisheries data can be reconstructed from archival sources, providing valuable information about the development of recreational fishing activities and explaining the historical social-ecological dynamics that led to current ecosystem states.