Nineteenth century narratives reveal historic catch rates for Australian snapper (Pagrus auratus)
Fish and Fisheries
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Snapper (Pagrus auratus) is widely distributed throughout subtropical and temperate southern oceans and forms a significant recreational and commercial fishery in Queensland, Australia. Using data from government reports, media sources, popular publications and a government fisheries survey carried out in 1910, we compiled information on individual snapper fishing trips that took place prior to the commencement of fisherywide organized data collection, from 1871 to 1939. In addition to extracting all available quantitative data, we translated qualitative information into bounded estimates and used multiple imputation to handle missing values, forming 287 records for which catch rate (snapper fisher−1 h−1) could be derived. Uncertainty was handled through a parametric maximum likelihood framework (a transformed trivariate Gaussian), which facilitated statistical comparisons between data sources. No statistically significant differences in catch rates were found among media sources and the government fisheries survey. Catch rates remained stable throughout the time series, averaging 3.75 snapper fisher−1 h−1 (95% confidence interval, 3.42–4.09) as the fishery expanded into new grounds. In comparison, a contemporary (1993–2002) south-east Queensland charter fishery produced an average catch rate of 0.4 snapper fisher−1 h−1 (95% confidence interval, 0.31–0.58). These data illustrate the productivity of a fishery during its earliest years of development and represent the earliest catch rate data globally for this species. By adopting a formalized approach to address issues common to many historical records – missing data, a lack of quantitative information and reporting bias – our analysis demonstrates the potential for historical narratives to contribute to contemporary fisheries management.
RT and JP were supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (Project No. 2013-018) on behalf of the Australian Government.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record
Vol. 17 (1), pp. 210 - 225