Project number: 2017-158
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $66,868.94
Principal Investigator: Karen A. Alexander
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 14 Feb 2018 - 30 Jul 2018


In order to secure the future of Australian wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries, it is increasingly clear that, alongside effective and responsible management and production, building and maintaining societal support is vital.

There are a number of recent examples in Australia where wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries have been threatened, even shut down, as a result of not having a ‘social license to operate’. This is despite having good ecological, economic and management credentials. Examples include: the 2016 closure of the Victorian small scale Port Phillip Bay net fishery as a result of pressure from the recreational fishing sector; the environmental controversy over mid-water trawling (‘super trawlers’) for small pelagic species despite scientifically-determined healthy stock status; and environmental non-governmental organisations (eNGOs) campaigns against Tassal’s proposed fish farm operations in Okehampton Bay on Tasmania’s east coast.

The wild-catch and aquaculture industries are increasingly and acutely aware of the need to garner societal support. But, they are unsure of how to address poor societal support at its root, who needs to be involved to address the problem, and effective pathways to improving societal support. From an industry perspective, there are gaps in knowledge in terms of 1) identifying the determinants of poor/high societal support; 2) identifying stakeholder groups to target who determine societal support and outcomes for wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries (e.g. other resource user groups, eNGOs, decision-makers and government, consumers, other publics); and 3) appropriate, effective and innovative pathways to improve societal support through engagement strategies and interventions.

However, there is a wealth of information available that is not directly or easily transferable currently. It requires collation and synthesis to address the knowledge gaps, including learnings from other industries, international wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries, as well as historical case studies of successes and failures within Australia. This project will draw together knowledge from existing literature and documentation and also use key informant interviews to address the above gaps.


1. To provide a nuanced definition of societal support for wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries in Australia
2. To identify determining factors (social, economic, environmental and political) affecting societal support for wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries in Australia
3. To identify means by which to detect, assess and monitor societal support for wild-catch and aquaculture fisheries in Australia using a risk-based approach

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-925646-82-5
Author: Karen A. Alexander & Kirsten E. Abernethy
Final Report • 2019-08-31 • 1.21 MB


Australia’s wild-catch fisheries and aquaculture are increasingly attentive to the importance of having support from communities and stakeholders to ensure their future sustainability and prosperity. This project aimed to identify determinants of socially-supported wild-catch fisheries and aquaculture in Australia. This project was developed collaboratively with the Human Dimensions Research Subprogram and relevant industry stakeholders and extends previous FRDC projects by examining differential definitions and assessments of social acceptability.

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