The professional wild-catch fishing industry contributes to the viability of rural and regional areas in coastal NSW
Budget expenditure: $424,228.76
Project Status:
Principal Investigator: Kate Barclay
Organisation: University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
Project start/end date: 11 Jun 2014 - 29 Jun 2016
Wild Catch


The contributions of commercial fisheries to coastal communities in NSW is not well understood. Current methods for estimating the economic contribution of fisheries calculate only the landed value of the catch and numbers of people directly employed in commercial fishing. This gives inadequate information about commercial fisheries’ position in economic networks within coastal communities – they require a range of goods and services provided from the local community and from larger centres in NSW, all with associated employment. A small percentage of the population is directly engaged in commercial fishing, however, existing evidence indicates that when commercial fishing declines the negative impacts may spread throughout the supply chain, as well as on the ‘glue’ holding towns together through social contributions of fishing families. In the prevailing policy environment the importance of ecological protection and the contributions of recreational fishers are well recognized, while commercial fishers are often seen as ‘the bad guys’ and bear the brunt of the trade-offs made in resource management decisions.

The project generates knowledge that can be used both to demonstrate the value of commercial industries to improve their position as stakeholders in resource management decisions, and to improve public attitudes about commercial fisheries. Sound evidence about the contributions of commercial fisheries will enable triple bottom line policies for sustainability in coastal NSW, by adding social and economic knowledge to the ecological knowledge already developed. For example, it will help identify the costs of adjustment and the resilience of communities with economically challenged fisheries, and indicate how restructuring may be made less difficult. It will also remedy the lack of understanding about contributions from particular sections of commercial fishing, such as the special contributions Indigenous commercial fishers make to their local communities - both Indigenous and non-Indigenous - related to cultural obligations.


1. Evaluate the economic contribution of commercial wild-catch fisheries for 8 regions covering the whole NSW coast, including the regional economic impacts such as multiplier effects and employment and contributions to related sectors within regions, building on previous similar studies.
2. Evaluate the social contributions of commercial fisheries for the same regions, including the participation of fishing families in community organizations, heritage values of fishing for regions, and the social aspects of economic contributions, building on previous studies.
3. Establish a methodology to be used for ongoing social and economic evaluations as part of government reporting and industry engagement, building on recent and ongoing work in this field.
4. Write a report integrating the social and economic evaluations for each town identifying the role of commercial fisheries in that community, and highlighting threats to sustainability and viability, in a form suitable for engaging with local and state government agencies.
5. Create flyers for a general audience, including photographs and personal stories, to raise awareness of the role of commercial fisheries in coastal communities.

Project products

Report • 2016-11-01
Recreational and professional fishers are often thought to be in conflict with each other. Resource management debates, especially in estuarine areas, often involve an assumption that removing...
Report • 2016-11-01
The Central Coast-Hawkesbury is a diverse fishing area which includes estuarine meshing and trapping in the Tuggerah Lakes and Hawkesbury River, as well as offshore trap and line fisheries. It also...
Report • 2016-11-01
The Clarence, although only a small geographic region, is the most productive fishing region within NSW. The river supports an estuary general and estuary prawn trawl industry, based mainly out of...
Report • 2016-11-01
The far north coast study area includes the main fishing ports of Tweed, Brunswick Heads, Ballina and Evans Head. The area includes a number of significant fisheries, especially ocean prawn trawl,...
Report • 2016-11-01
The Great Lakes - Hunter study area includes the main fishing ports of Taree, Wallis Lake (Forster/Great Lakes), Port Stephens/Tea Gardens and Newcastle. The area supports a diverse range of fisheries...
Report • 2016-11-01
Coastal Indigenous people have a long association with professional fishing in NSW. They began trading seafood with white settlers not long after colonisation and are credited with keeping the colony...
Report • 2016-11-01
The Mid North Coast study area includes the main fishing ports of Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, South West Rocks, Port Macquarie (Hastings) and Laurieton. The area supports a diverse range of fisheries...
Report • 2016-11-01
The main fishing ports in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven area include Wollongong, Lake Illawarra, Kiama, the Shoalhaven (Nowra/Jervis Bay/Greenwall Point) and Ulladulla. The area supports a diverse range...
Report • 2016-11-01
The main fishing ports in the South Coast study area include Batemans Bay, Narooma, Bermagui and Eden. The area supports a diverse range of fisheries targeting a variety of species including ocean...
Report • 2016-11-01
Sydney is the birthplace of the professional fishing industry in Australia, with fish being harvested for sale in the colony not long after the settlement was established. Today a small but diverse...

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