A study which measures the contribution of Victorian wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries to community wellbeing will meet multiple needs:
• Generate detailed, spatially-defined knowledge on the economic and social contributions of fisheries to community wellbeing, and elicit where contributions could be enhanced
• Inform government (local, state) of the importance of fisheries and likely impacts of policy or management decisions on regional and metropolitan communities
• Enhance community engagement and support for fisheries through demonstrating the benefits that flow from professional fishing and aquaculture sectors into communities
Audience: 1) industry representative organizations; 2) government; 3) general public. Currently, very little data exists about the economic and/or social benefits of professional fisheries to communities in Victoria. Existing data only calculate total value of production (beach/farm gate price x volume), and the number of business owners or fisheries employees identified in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census. There is no reporting of the multiplier effects in communities of having businesses based there, through service industries or seafood product going into markets. The lack of sophisticated information about the contributions of professional fishing puts the industry as a group at a disadvantage compared to competing resource users which do have such reporting and have been persuasive in negotiations.
Information on social contributions dovetails with economic contributions to build a picture of the overall contributions fisheries make. This can help address the lack of community support for fisheries and consumer influence on the regulatory environment, which has grown to constitute a threat to the continued viability of fisheries. While information generated via this project will not fix the problem – relationships between industry and community must be improved via sustained, strategic engagement – credible data on the social and economic contributions commercial fisheries make to Victoria is useful for boosting the industry’s ‘social license to operate’.