Improved seafood industry engagement with its stakeholders/communities remains a high priority for the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC) to address low rates of societal acceptance and/or support. The FRDC recognises that social support for the seafood industry relies heavily on members’ improving their understanding of people’s views about the industry, and on building more trusting relationships with those people - especially those with direct influence on resource access decisions. In addition to being more effective ‘engagers’, the industry also needs to be able to evaluate how effective their engagement activities are and how they can continually build community trust. Towards that end, the FRDC commissioned a range of projects focusing on building the seafood industry’s capacity for effective stakeholder/community engagement (e.g. Ogier & Brooks 2016, FRDC 2014/301, 2011/525; Ham 2010, 2001/310), long term industry leadership (e.g. FRDC 2011/410), and adaptation and well-being (e.g. 2012/402) - all of which are necessary for the industry to build social support.
However, it remains unclear how and to what extent industry members are using these and other resources to help them ‘engage’ with their stakeholders/communities. It is believed that there are obstacles that can limit industry members’ use of these resources and their general engagement practices, including:
1. Industry members not seeing the full relevance or need for engagement;
2. Industry members perceiving ‘engagement’ as marketing and/or product promotion;
3. Industry members lacking the necessary expertise, capability and capacity in engagement;
4. Lack of knowledge and information about the comparative effectiveness of various engagement activities and strategies, particularly in a fisheries context; and
5. Ineffective extension of existing information (e.g. unsuitable formats).
This Project is designed to explore how and to what extent these and other barriers keep the seafood industry from making substantive progress towards building greater stakeholder and community trust.