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.
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.