East Coast Trawl Fishery (ECTF) involves fishers, agent and/or wholesaler, processors, various industry and government organisations and retailers. The lack of collaboration and production activities due to the lengthy coast and long distance between trawl areas along with a multi species fishery has resulted in the fishery becoming (i) a production focused industry and (ii) location oriented rather than whole of state or whole of fishery oriented industry. Consequently, intense competition exists within East Coast Trawl throughout the whole supply and value chain. This has been exacerbated by the decline in the value of Queensland prawn production over the past five years caused by record high fuel costs; labour shortages; competition from imported product and the strong Australian dollar. Furthermore, ACPF have identified a whole of industry approach as a research priority with an objective to identify a specific opportunity/strategy to pursue, not as individual fishers, but as a collective fishery. This project aims to develop a framework and benchmark case study to identify the leadership qualities and commitment within the ECTF. The implementation of a market opportunity/strategy will assess the identified ECTF leadership group and the network’s ability to increase long term profitability for the fishery.
The industry has identified and agreed to the need to develop collaboration within the fishery to leverage existing and future market opportunities. The understanding and building of industry social capital to support internal leadership through a network analysis is seen as fundamental to the development, coordination and implementation of a market approach for the industry.
The East Coast Trawl Fishery (ECTF) is spread over a large geographical area (from the Torres Strait to the Queensland/New South Wales border), and comprises a large number of small independent fishers. Importantly, it is one of Australia's largest fisheries and has an annual volume of 10,000 tonnes with a value of around $110million a year. This project aimed to investigate the current structure and process of the ECTF network. It was proposed that examining network structure and processes (in the context of social capital theory) was critical in identifying opportunities for both the ECTF network and individual fishers.
The investigation within the fishery revealed formal and informal leadership exists. Other types of leadership were identified including heroic and informal leaders. These forms of leadership aid in fishery connectivity and can be re-engaged to facilitate future fishery activities and decision making.
Several fishery market opportunities were evaluated and each brought fishery stakeholders together. This provided valuable insight into the fishery, stakeholder interaction, communication and the possible approaches for fishery stakeholders to address future collective actions.