The need for this coordination program arises from the limited understanding that we have of the social aspect of fishing at the individual, business/group or sectoral levels, and the ways in which this activity interacts with the broader community. It has become increasingly clear that the management of fisheries (commercial, recreational or traditional) has profound social implications for fishers, their families and the communities they support. Equally, the co-management of the fisheries resource is unlikely to be comprehensively achieved without awareness of the different drivers for decision making by both fishers and management agencies. These decisions, while related to economics are not necessarily solely driven by economics, but also by the social dimension. The current lack of information in this area inhibits effective engagement on issues affecting fishers and fishing, and the facilitation and development of leadership, communication and adaptation capacity within and across the different sectors.
Through a range of different techniques, social science research can address these issues and complement biological and economic research, to support practice and community perception change. While previous investment into the social aspects of fisheries has (due to circumstance) been opportunitistic and uncoordinated, this coordination program will provide a strategic approach to the social aspects of sector issues and operations. Specifically, the program will seek to leverage research from past projects, and build synergies between current projects in both the social and other discipline research areas, across all sectors. In this way, it is envisaged that funds invested by FRDC will be more efficiently used, with project outcomes that have a greater reach than if they were implemented in isolation.