Published: 29 June 2021 Updated: 7 December 2023
Table of contents

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’.

Knowing what drives community trust and acceptance in Australian fisheries and aquaculture has been the focus of a range of FRDC investments.

What builds trust?

Community Trust in Rural Industries

FRDC is a partner in this community trust program of research, which is a multi-industry collaboration to understand, track and build community trust. Measuring community sentiment enables rural industries to better understand, and where necessary, take action, to ensure industry practices align with community expectations.

The Community Trust in Rural Industries program of research established that trust in, and acceptance of, rural industries is strong, and represents a foundation for which to build deeper, more constructive relationship with the Australian community.

At a sector-wide level, most Australians see rural industries as responsible stewards of the land and sea. Modelling shows that environmental responsibility and industry responsiveness are the chief drivers of trust in rural industries. Aso important are that communities feel connected to rural industries and see rural industries as contributing to regional Australian communities.

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.

More resources

Demonstrating environmental responsibility

Fisheries and aquaculture aims to apply 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 in an effort to support sustainable responsed to challenges such as climate-driven change and increased competition for marine resources. Relevant resources include: Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports, which documents the biological sustainability status of Australia’s key wild fish stocks; stakeholder and community surveys, which capture Community perceptions of sustainability of the fishing industry in Australia; and How do celebrity chefs and other media influencers affect consumer attitudes about sustainable seafood? (2017-131).

Industry responsiveness to community concerns

Listening and responding to community concerns and interests are key steps to increasing trust and acceptability. Through its RD&E, FRDC is working to close the knowledge gap between community and industry. 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 include: FRDC’s License to Engage Handbook; Determinates of socially-supported wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries in Australia (2017-158); Investigating social acceptance for the wildcatch commercial fishing industry of Southeast Queensland (2017-012); and Let’s Talk Fish (2012-301).

Contributions to communities

Fisheries and aquaculture activities contribute to local, regional and national well-being. This contribution includes economic activity but also the supply of local seafood, employment, training, social capital, and recreational experiences. These contributions are an important part of fisheries and aquaculture community interactions. Relevant resources include projects which have captured fisheries and aquaculture contributions at state and regional level (2013-301; 2014-301; 2015-302; 2017-092) and at state and national level (2017-210), as well as supporting recreational fishing and fisher wellbeing (2018-095 and 2018-161).

Community engagement

Fisheries and aquaculture are an important part of the broad Australian community. But community connections need to be valued and strengthened by the fisheries and aquaculture community. Relevant resources to support better community engagement include: Engagement for Success: evaluation of engagement events to inform industry management strategies (2019-074); Community Engagement Monitoring & Evaluation Framework and Toolkit; and Quantifying inter-sectoral values within and among the Indigenous, commercial and recreational sectors (2020-088).

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