Project number: 2017-175
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $145,000.00
Principal Investigator: Becky Schmidt
Organisation: CSIRO Land and Water Canberra
Project start/end date: 30 Mar 2018 - 29 Jun 2020


Natural capital is the soil, air, water, habitat, land and biodiversity that sustains food and fibre production globally. Valuing these natural assets can improve industry profitability and improve natural resource management practices to increase environmental sustainability. Increased profitability might be achieved by (1) verified environmental sustainability and access to premium markets; (2) reduced risk to financial investors, with flow-on effects including finance discounts; and (3) capacity to engage in emerging markets for environmental services.

This project links the profitability of prawn fisheries to natural assets via the ecosystem services they provide, building on the methods and data developed in FRDC project 2013/006. By describing the causal links between the physical environment and fishing activities, and quantifying the condition of the biophysical environment and impacts of different land uses, management practices can be be optimised resulting in increased profits and environmental sustainability.


1. link the profitability of prawn fisheries in NSW to the ecosystem services provided by natural assets
2. identify and engage stakeholders related to prawn fisheries in NSW
3. increase stakeholders' awareness of and skills in natural capital accounting

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-925994-21-6
Authors: Becky Schmidt Vincent Raoult Ian Cresswell Troy Gaston Matt Taylor Chris Ware
Final Report • 2021-03-01 • 1.27 MB


The FRDC Project 2017-175 Linking ecosystem services to the profitability of prawn fisheries delivered new methods, data and indicators to a case study on prawn fisheries in a broader project entitled Lifting farm gate profits: the role of natural capital accounts (RnD4Profit-16-03-003). This FRDC project:
compiled data for experimental natural capital accounts - namely, the economic value of habitats that support the diets of economically important species of fish and prawns
demonstrated the steps required to produce natural capital accounts for commercial fisheries
identified that the approach was valuable for not only fisheries, but also of great interest to local stakeholders in both government and the public.

Project products

Fact Sheet • 2021-03-01 • 602.70 KB


CSIRO is leading research into applying natural capital accounting to Australia’s primary industries. Natural capital accounting can help industries measure and report their environmental performance and track it against their economic information, improving their decision making.
Fact Sheet • 2021-03-01 • 569.62 KB


CSIRO is leading research into the application of natural capital accounting to primary industries, to help them measure and report their environmental performance and improve decision making.
Final Report • 2020-05-01


The Lifting farm gate profits: the role of natural capital accounts project seeks to determine whether natural capital accounting could drive better decision making and productivity of primary industries, which depend on healthy natural habitats. This project examined the application of two existing frameworks to report on how primary industries depend on, and impact, natural capital:
- the Natural Capital Protocol, a framework that enables businesses to identify, measure and value their direct and indirect impacts and dependencies on natural capital (Natural Capital Coalition, 2016) via nine steps that facilitate strong conceptual understanding of the system
- the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), an integrated statistical framework (United Nations, 2014a; 2014b) for organising biophysical data, measuring ecosystem services, tracking changes in natural resources and ecosystem assets, and linking this information to economic and other human activities. In this project, the SEEA is combined with the Natural Capital Protocol at the scale of enterprises and sectors for three primary industries: cotton, fisheries and forestry.
This report presents the outcomes of this process for the fisheries industry, focusing on commercial prawn fisheries within the Wallis Lake estuary, NSW, Australia.  
Final Report • 2020-05-23


This report presents experimental natural capital accounts designed for the commercial prawn fisheries within the Wallis Lake estuary, NSW, Australia. The report implements the natural capital accounts designed in a companion conceptual modelling report (Schmidt et al., 2020). That report identified the ways that the prawn-fishing industry depends on natural capital, and prioritised impact causal pathways significant to the extent and/or condition of natural capital assets. Three groups of causal pathways were prioritised for further assessment and accounting, triggered by the following impact causes (drivers): freshwater pulses; agriculture; commercial fisheries

Related research


Attendance at the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, Tenure and User Rights Conference in Yeosu, Korea 10 to 14 September 2018

1. 1. Oral presentation on the delegated Ministerial powers provided to Officers of the Spencer Gulf West Coast Prawn Fishermen’s Association to set short term management arrangements in the SGPF.2. To increase the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of fisheries management arrangements applied...
Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)

Knowledge for Productivity: Phase I - Lake Wooloweyah

1. To determine the potential increases in fishery productivity using School Prawn (Metapenaues macleaya) and Eastern King Prawn (Penaeus plebejus) as readily understood community indicators of fisheries productivity
University of Newcastle