Measuring, Interpreting and Monitoring Economic Productivity in Commercial Fisheries

Project Number:



University of Adelaide

Principal Investigator:

Stephanie F. McWhinnie

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





The development of indicators to measure and monitor the performance of fisheries against economic objectives continues to challenge fisheries managers. To date economic metrics have focused on various measures of profitability, and this has been limited to relative few fisheries due to the costs and time involved in collecting the information. The use of productivity analysis provides an alternative approach to measure and monitor performance in fisheries. It is a broad area of economic analysis that largely estimates how the level and combination of inputs used by fishers affects their level of output, revenue or profitability. From this, the level of efficiency within a fishery can be determined, and how this efficiency level changes over time can be monitored. The role of management in influencing efficiency can also be directly determined. Measures of capacity utilization also provide information on the level (and changes in) excess capacity, which can be used to develop a proxy measure for the optimal fleet size. Many productivity measures can be derived from available logbook data, while more detailed measures can be obtained from the full economic data (e.g., socio-economics of fishers, vessel characteristics, environmental conditions). These approaches can also provide information about fisher behavior, such as targeting ability in multispecies fisheries, and their response to changes in price and costs, as well as provide information on what is driving changes in profitability (e.g., prices, costs or management). In addition, appropriate measures can be identified to assist managers bridge commercial and other fisheries sectors. The application of these techniques in Australian fisheries has been limited, and their ability to provide cost-effective information useful for management has not been fully examined. Outside fisheries, productivity has proven to be a useful economic indicator and its potential in Australian fisheries needs to be assessed. This project will meet this need by asking: In what contexts do indicators of productivity and productivity change provide a useful addition to other measures of fisheries economic performance.


1. To review the use of productivity analysis as a performance indicator and in management assessment in fisheries and assess the contexts in which it provides additional insights for effective management.

2. To demonstrate the use of productivity measurement and analysis as a performance indicator in three Australian fisheries.

3. To develop a guide for managers to illustrate how productivity analysis can provide relevant and cost-effective economic performance indicators and how these can be used to inform management decisions.