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Customary and recreational fishing pressure: large-bodied fish assemblages in a tropical, intermittent Australian river

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 02:31 authored by Close, PG, Dobbs, RJ, Tunbridge, DJ, Speldewinde, PC, Warfe, DM, Toussaint, S, Davies, PM
Permanent waterholes in intermittent rivers of northern Australia support a diverse piscifauna and are popular areas for customary and recreational fishing. The present preliminary study explored the perception that fishing reduces the abundance of targeted, large-bodied species that become restricted to disconnected waterholes during the distinct dry season. River sites in the Fitzroy River catchment, Western Australia, could be clearly classified as experiencing either high or low fishing pressure by using metrics of human ‘accessibility’. The abundance of Hephaestus jenkinsi and Lates calcarifer, targeted by both recreational and customary fishers was highly correlated with accessibility and showed a negative relationship with fishing pressure. Non-target species showed no discernible trend. We estimated that 38% of river length remains subject to relatively low fishing pressure. These preliminary relationships suggest that fish harvest can potentially alter the structure of fish assemblages in disconnected habitats. The potential impact of fishing on the sustainability of fish populations is, most likely, greatest for non-diadromous species and will become more apparent with increasing distance from recolonisation sources. Combining management techniques that maintain recolonisation and recruitment potential with traditional fisheries management strategies (e.g. bag and size limits) presents a suitable approach to mitigate the effects of fish harvesting from tropical intermittent rivers.


Publication title

Marine and Freshwater Research










School of Natural Sciences


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication

150 Oxford St, Po Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia, Victoria, 3066

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 CSIRO

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Fresh, ground and surface water biodiversity

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