Despite considerable investment in RD&E to understand why the Australian seafood industry has been experiencing diminished levels of socio-political and community acceptability, there is still uncertainty regarding the significant values of different segments of the Australian community for coastal and marine systems, their management and industry (Essence Communications 2015). Further, there is evidence these values and associated expectations are highly changeable and can have significant individual, business and national repercussions. While the seafood industry already operates from a strong values-based position of its own - ‘sustainability’, there is evidence the community's concerns have expanded to include animal welfare, supply chain integrity, modern slavery for example.
Understanding community values and expectations is important but not enough. Industry must articulate and demonstrate its commitments to addressing kncommunity expectations. This is critical to breaking the reactive negative cycle that threatens resource access, mental health and viability of our industry. A means of monitoring and tracking industry's success in responding to the community's changing expectations and values must also be developed.
Seafood Industry Australia's (SIA) members have identified social licence. This project is a tangible commitment to a national conversation and action to address community values. It is an opportunity to build seafood industry unity on the basis of a set of shared values and supporting practices.
Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries (ACPF) has initiated a lot of this listening and values-related work relevant to wild catch prawns. ACPF is ready to design, implement and evaluate activities that embed these values as messages and convey the supporting or changing behaviours as proof. ACPF needs to ensure that its outputs reflect the direction of the Australia seafood industry and sees advantages in liaising with SIA as it produces outputs at sector level. In doing so, it will provide a test case for how other seafood industry sectors can undertake to acknowledge and respond to community values and expectations, and make a national set of shared industry-community values their own.