Our Pledge: Australian seafood industry response to community values and expectations
Seafood Industry Australia (SIA)
Jane D. Lovell
Despite considerable investment in RD&E to understand why the Australian seafood industry has been experiencing diminished levels of socio-political and community acceptability, there is still uncertainty regarding the significant values of different segments of the Australian community for coastal and marine systems, their management and industry (Essence Communications 2015). Further, there is evidence these values and associated expectations are highly changeable and can have significant individual, business and national repercussions. While the seafood industry already operates from a strong values-based position of its own - ‘sustainability’, there is evidence the community's concerns have expanded to include animal welfare, supply chain integrity, modern slavery for example. Understanding community values and expectations is important but not enough. Industry must articulate and demonstrate its commitments to addressing kncommunity expectations. This is critical to breaking the reactive negative cycle that threatens resource access, mental health and viability of our industry. A means of monitoring and tracking industry's success in responding to the community's changing expectations and values must also be developed. Seafood Industry Australia's (SIA) members have identified social licence. This project is a tangible commitment to a national conversation and action to address community values. It is an opportunity to build seafood industry unity on the basis of a set of shared values and supporting practices. Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries (ACPF) has initiated a lot of this listening and values-related work relevant to wild catch prawns. ACPF is ready to design, implement and evaluate activities that embed these values as messages and convey the supporting or changing behaviours as proof. ACPF needs to ensure that its outputs reflect the direction of the Australia seafood industry and sees advantages in liaising with SIA as it produces outputs at sector level. In doing so, it will provide a test case for how other seafood industry sectors can undertake to acknowledge and respond to community values and expectations, and make a national set of shared industry-community values their own.
1. Identify values of major segments of the Australian community for fisheries resources and seafood industries, and expectations of industry behaviours that support those values
2. Identify values of the Australian seafood industry that are common across the industry at national and sector/regional scales
3. Establish industry response to community values and expectations, including measurable benchmarks of industry behaviours and performance that demonstrate commitment
4. Demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of a community engagement and communication strategy that is built on recognised shared values and committment to supporting industry behaviours (Extension proof of concept – Prawns)
5. Increase capacity of industry's current and emerging leaders to engage in values-and-behaviours conversations with community leaders on an ongoing basis
Seafood Industry Australia commissioned Futureye to review existing research into the Australian communities attitudes toward seafood, as well as other market research, that has been undertaken since 2014. The findings from this review were used to make recommendations to Seafood Industry Australia about what to address in their pledge to demonstrate the industry’s intent to earn its ‘social licence to operate.’
Seafood Industry Australia commissioned Sea Change Consulting Australia to review values statements and recorded practices of 52 Australian seafood organisations. This review collated the most common Australian industry values and underpinning behaviours (practices), which provides evidence to demonstrate the industry’s effort and performance regarding to meet shared practices and values to earn its social licence to operate.
Essence was engaged by Seafood Industry Australia to undertake a research program to help inform the development of a pledge to the Australian community and provide a benchmark of community sentiment towards the Australian seafood industry.
The Australian seafood industry has clearly identified social licence and community perceptions as critical issues for its ongoing viability and prosperity. This is because current research shows substantial proportions of the Australian public are concerned or knows little about the ethics, environmental impact and governance of the seafood industry. To help improve industry’s social licence, this project aimed to develop a clearer understanding of community and industry values and underpinning behaviours to identify both threats to social license and behaviours community would like to see reinforced by industry.
This project collated and evaluated community values and expectations regarding the Australian seafood industry with the shared values and practices of the seafood industry itself in order to develop a commitment from industry to the Australian public regarding its intent to serve the common good in order to improve its social licence to operate. Comparison of community values and expectations of the seafood industry with the actual values and practices of the seafood industry indicated good alignment between the two. The core values and practices identified as mutually important became the basis for the formation of the elements of the “Our Pledge” statement, which was finalised using an extensive internal industry and external community survey-based review process.