Due to the dispersed context described above (background), there is a need to do research that can connect the needs of fishers and the needs of the community so as to integrate socio-economic objectives with biological ones and build the fishery both internally and externally in relation to its relationships with its constituent communities. To date the management of the MSF and other fisheries has been based on biological imperatives. Yet tension between maintaining sustainable fisheries practice remains while biodiversity and livelihood interests compete. Although best practice is progressively being adopted by management agencies, the move of fisher associations to establish their own social and economic objectives, and ‘own’ these in relation to working with management in the development of harvest strategies, is unprecedented. In order to illuminate the more ephemeral but crucial social and economic objectives, they must first be understood and agreed upon, preferably in consultation with all key stakeholders (Sloan et al. 2014). However, in multi-stakeholder/species fisheries with hundreds of licence holders the sheer diversity of views can confound organic development. The absence of defined social and economic objectives promotes a piecemeal approach to ongoing management, contributing to uncertainty and angst for all stakeholders (Cochrane 2002). To this end, we will apply the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) as described in FRDC projects; 2009-073, 2010/040, and 2011/039 to develop a means to rank and compare objectives across multiple disciplines and stakeholders within the MSF. It is a research method that supports objective decision making using several qualitative factors (Lee et al 2012). In this case detailed analysis of an industry wide AHP survey will provide a clearer understanding of the common and conflicting social and economic objectives. This information will also build common ground for the negotiation and agreement required to develop fishery specific harvest strategy options and appropriate social and economic indicators.
The South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery (MSF) has sustained extensive management change over time, influencing its demographics. Now fishers in the MSF community are dispersed both physically and in perspective. These factors have made it harder for the MSF to connect with and build relationships with its constituent communities. This project evolved due to an industry identified need to develop an objective method for documenting and reconciling fisher aspirations to incorporate social and economic objectives into management of the MSF, to build a more harmonious fishery and consolidate its social license to operate with the wider community.
The project surveyed fishers in the MSF from throughout SA to get fisher’s perspectives on what types of social and economic management priorities need to be included in the ongoing reform process of the MSF. The project also assesses whether there was any possibility of achieving consensus across the fishery on any specific management perspectives and if so, which ones mattered the most. Recommendations about indicators and suggestions for future reform are provided.