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Gaining trust is core to Australian fisheries and aquaculture, now and into the future. Building community trust is an important step towards improving the acceptability of fisheries and aquaculture within key parts of the Australian community, and addressing issues that impact their ‘social licence to operate’.

The following reports provide an overview of social acceptability and social licence issues in Australian fisheries and aquaculture:

  • The Australian Seafood Industry and the Social Licence to Operate (2016-407). Steven Davies’ report looks at fishmongering and fearmongering in the modern market to better understand the challenges faced by industry through a number of case studies, and appropriate actions that can be taken to demonstrate its responsible practices. Watch Davies' talk about his report.
  • Let’s Talk Fish (2012-301). This report is aimed at assisting the industry to understand and lead informed conversations about the sustainability of wild-catch fishing. It discusses research linking overall community trust of wild-catch fishing industries and the degrees of social acceptability.

What builds trust?

Factors that build trust and acceptability have been identified through research undertaken by CSIRO, the Centre for Food Integrity and FRDC (see figure below).

Trust is based on the level to which:

  • fisheries and aquaculture activity are well regulated and managed for sustainability
  • community sentiment is recognised and responded to
  • benefits to the Australian public outweigh the costs
  • values are similar between operators, public management agencies, and the Australian community.

Factors that build trust and acceptability have been identified through research undertaken by CSIRO, the Centre for Food Integrity and FRDC as depicted in the image.

Demonstrating sustainable management

Fisheries and aquaculture in Australia are sustainable because of recognised best practice management and regulation to protect and maintain fish stocks and maintain ecological wellbeing of the marine environment. Management of Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture continues to adapt to ensure sustainability in response to challenges such as climate-driven change and increased competition for marine resources. This is the focus of FRDC’s National Priority One Program. Relevant resources include:

  • Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports, which document the biological sustainability status of Australia’s key wild fish stocks.
  • Community perceptions of sustainability of the fishing industry in Australia. These surveys track the level of perceived trustworthiness of the fishing and aquaculture industry and its management.

Responding to community sentiment

Listening to community concerns and interests, and seeking to understand and respond to these concerns are key steps to increasing trust and acceptability. Through its RD&E, the FRDC is working to close the knowledge gap between community and industry to allow both parties to engage in a mutually beneficial way. Industry initiatives such as Seafood Industry Australia's Our Pledge (2017-242) are examples of the industry respecting and responding to community sentiment. Relevant resources and current projects include:

Positive contribution to communities

Fisheries and aquaculture activities contribute to local, regional and national well-being in many forms. This includes economic activity but also the provision of local seafood, employment, training, social capital, and recreational experiences. These contributions are an important part of fisheries and aquaculture community interactions. Relevant resources and current projects include:

  • Understanding social and economic contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to community wellbeing. There are various projects examining commercial fisheries and aquaculture contributions at state and regional level (2013-301; 2014-301; 2015-302; 2017-092) and at national and state level (2017-210), as well as of recreational fishing to fisher wellbeing (2018-095).

Common values

Fisheries and aquaculture are an important part of the broad Australian community. Recognising similar values and committing to strengthening these is essential to illustrating the value of fisheries and aquaculture in the Australian community.