The Queensland commercial fishing industry provides healthy food for the community and tourist industry, has implemented sustainable operating standards (ESM), and is highly regulated. In spite of this, access to fish stocks are being reduced through competition with other users and conservation based closures, not always based on biological and stock assessment reasons (Pascoe 2013). Recent research indicates a low level of social acceptance of the commercial fishing industry by the community, contrasting starkly with perceptions of the recreational fishing industry (FRDC 2016, 2011). Issues include perceived impacts on targeted fish stocks, habitats and ecosystems (food webs), threatened, endangered or protected species (by-catch); supply chain; and compliance with best practice and government regulations (Christoe 2015; Mazur et al 2014; Sparks 2013). Gaining social acceptance, or a Social Licence to Operate (SLO) needs a long term commitment to demonstrating good environmental stewardship, leadership capacity, and effective engagement and communication to inform and garner support from stakeholders. Given rapidly evolving policy and digital media, the wild catch commercial fishing industry is in urgent need of effective and detailed engagement and communication strategies that extend well beyond interactions with government and regulators (FRDC 2016; Mazur et al 2014). This project aims to build on the considerable research and guidance about developing SLO by the FRDC (Christoe 2015; Mazur et al. 2014, Ogier et al. 2016, FRDC 2016) and others (Quigley 2014). Core research components include understanding self-identified values and capacity for and need for engagement of the fishers and key stakeholders, and identifying areas of common ground as a basis for continual improvement of relationships and perceptions of legitimacy, credibility, and trust. Phase one research findings will contribute to a community engagement strategy for the wild catch commercial fishing industry in Southeast Queensland. Phase two will test selected engagement strategies for effectiveness.
to build the credibility and trust necessary for a high level of SLO.