Do estuaries with different fishing activity have different fish assemblages and populations?
Commercial and recreational fishing have impacts on fish assemblages and populations, but does their combined fishing pressure result in different fish assemblages in estuaries with only one type of fishing activity? This pilot study tested the model that estuaries with only one type of fishing activity have fewer impacts on fish assemblages and populations than estuaries with more than one type because the fishing pressure in the latter will be greater and results in different fish assemblages and taxa. Fish assemblages and populations, including diversity, abundance and size, did not significantly differ despite exposure to different fishing activities. Detecting differences in fish assemblages in estuaries associated with different fishing activities is difficult as smaller scale spatial and temporal factors have a significant influence on the patterns observed. This highlights the importance of paying close attention to the design of sampling programmes. The nested design of this study enabled identification of where greater effort is required to increase the capacity to detect differences. Recommendations for future studies are provided.