Scales: Design for conservation orientated recreational fishing
Long regarded to have little ecological impact, recreational fishing is not the harmless pastime it once was. By the turn of the century the popularity of angling in Victoria had grown to such an extent that the total weight of fish caught for some species was up to seven times the catch of those fishing to a commercial quota. This trend has continued nation-wide, and the activity now contributes $2.3billion a year to the economic and social wellbeing of Australia. With a current State Government target of one million people engaged in recreational fishing by 2020, Victorian fish stocks, and the very health of our marine and river systems, are under considerable pressure.
In Port Phillip Bay, commercial net fishing is currently being phased out to make way for recreational angling. This shift in effect replaces a centralised and easily monitored form of fishing with one that is widely dispersed and whose environmental impact is difficult to quantify. Current methods used to collect data to manage commercial fisheries draw heavily on finite public resources, and will provide a very limited picture of the activities and impacts of recreational anglers.
However, if fundamentally reconceptualised, the products used for recreational fishing have the ability to empower anglers to make conservation-oriented decisions and contribute to a pool of information that can support the sustainable management of fisheries. This project seeks to generate new tools for pro-sustainability behavior change for recreational anglers through the design of new equipment that gathers data and inform good practices for maintaining the health of our rivers, beaches and bays.