Monitoring recreational fishing in Western Australia is more accurate and cost effective thanks to new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU).
PhD student Ebenezer Afrifa-Yamoah has developed a way to make remote camera monitoring of WA boat ramps more cost-effective, without compromising on data accuracy.
The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) use these cameras to collect information about boat launches and retrievals year-round.
These cameras help monitor recreational fishing, and when combined with boat ramp surveys, they can be used to estimate recreational catches.
These estimates are an important tool for DPIRD to assess fish stocks, which enables Western Australia to manage fisheries sustainably.
“Approximately 26 per cent of Western Australians are involved in recreational fishing and so it really important to know how often they are fishing and how much they are catching,” Mr Afrifa-Yamoah said.
“Finding an accurate and cost-effective way to monitor these cameras is a really important tool to managing sustainable fish stocks in the future.
Mr Afrifa-Yamoah evaluated different ways to test the camera recordings of ramps used frequently or less often in different climate conditions.
“These cameras aren’t automated, and so it is very time consuming for someone to manually monitor the footage and record boat activity 24 hours a day all year,” he said.
“We investigated ways to cut down the amount of monitoring required without compromising accuracy by taking representative samples of the data.”
Mr Afrifa-Yamoah found that monitoring just 40 per cent of the footage could accurately predict the annual activity at a boat ramp, which has made monitoring boat ramps much more cost effective.
Co-supervisor Dr Stephen Taylor at DPIRD said, “We have already made changes to the way we do business based on the scientific outputs that Mr Afrifa-Yamoah has provided”.
“Rather than reading all available camera data, we are achieving significant cost savings by following Mr Afrifa-Yamoah’s recommendations to read around 40 percent for most ramps. These savings will be re-allocated to other aspects of remote camera monitoring and other surveys.”
Principal supervisor Associate Professor Ute Mueller highlighted the value of joint research between universities and government funded agencies, as demonstrated in this project which arose out of the long-standing relationship ECU shares with DPIRD.
The research has been published in Fisheries Research and can be read on their website.
Filling in the gaps
Mr Afrifa-Yamoah’s findings have also provided a potential way to predict boat ramp activity when the cameras are not operating.
“Outages are common, particularly cameras at remote locations, which means there are extended periods when the boat ramps are not monitored,” he said.
Mr Afrifa-Yamoah used the outage patterns for ten cameras around WA to mimic these outages at the consistently operational camera at a boat ramp in Perth.
He incorporated information about climate, holidays and weekends and time of the day todevelop a model that could successfully be adapted to fill in the knowledge gaps at other more remote boat ramps.
“Filling in these gaps will provide a much more accurate picture of boat ramp activity in WA all year round, which will improve estimates of recreational fishing effort.”
The research has been published in ICES Journal of Marine Science and can be read on their website.