Fisheries management across Australia relies on maximising the benefits to the community of a limited naturally renewable fisheries resource. Co-management frameworks have been developed and evaluated in the commercial sector, but there has been limited attention directed towards the recreational sector. Recently, PIRSA Fisheries & Aquaculture has focussed its attention on engaging more comprehensively with the recreational fishing sector as a means of fostering recreational fisheries in South Australia. Effective engagement is the first step to co-management, and in 2010/11 an engagement project was undertaken by PIRSA seeking to understand what recreational fishing means to people and what future they want for their sector. Discussions generated consistent themes and issues of concern to recreational fishers, including sustainable fishing, ongoing access, funding and leadership, governance, education and promotion of the sector. At this point in time, there is no formal structured way of incorporating 'grass roots' input from the recreational sector into fisheries management processes in South Australia, apart from the high level input at the Fisheries Council of South Australia. A structured approach to recreational sector co-management is required to facilitate ongoing meaningful engagement with the sector, and also to translate the success of recent engagement efforts into an ongoing and enduring co-management approach for the recreational sector. The project closely links with goals of the national development strategy for recreational fishing which was released in 2011, and some key aims of the draft strategic plan for recreational fishing in South Australia, including regional leadership development of the sector. Data collected through the case study will supplement traditional data collection using phone/diary based surveys to provide greater estimates of recreational catch, participation rates and attitudes of recreational fishers in inland South Australia.
Fisheries management principally aims to maximise the community’s use of fisheries resource, which relies upon effective management decisions to ensure sustainability. Co-management arrangements have been utilised in fisheries management for some time as a framework to enable input of stakeholders in fisheries management that promote this ‘ownership’ of management decisions, and improve outcomes and the social licence to operate for fishers. However, co-management processes must be designed to support effective participation of all stakeholders involved. This research projects aims to investigate and assess engagement methods that may be utilised to enhance the implementation of co-management frameworks in recreational fisheries across Australia.