Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2014 August Understanding the value of commercial fishers and how they survive

11/08/2014
Understanding the value of commercial fishers and how they survive
Researchers from James Cook University are trying to lure commercial fishers to take part in surveys that could help the industry adapt to change, and measure the value of fishing to regional communities.

Understanding the value of commercial fishers and how they survive

Researchers from James Cook University are trying to lure commercial fishers to take part in surveys that could help the industry adapt to change, and measure the value of fishing to regional communities.

The two collaborative research projects will explore how different types of fishing businesses respond to change, as well as the economic contribution of fishing to Queensland’s east coast communities.

The two projects aim to meet industry priorities, and include researchers from JCU and the CSIRO, managers from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA).

Each project is funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) on behalf of the Federal Government.

The first project, Adapt or Fail: Risk management and business resilience in Queensland commercial fisheries, aims to explore whether different types of fishing businesses – large or small, specialised or diverse, with leased or bought licences or quota – adapt to different types of changes in different ways.

Project leader, Dr Renae Tobin, Research Fellow with JCU’s Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, said she wanted to know whether some fishers or businesses are better at coping or adapting than others.

The research will consider the barriers that get in the way of what fishers would like to do to adapt their businesses to change, and how can we learn from fishers to improve the future viability of the industry.

“While commercial fishers are generally quite good at adapting to most things thrown their way, fishers tell us that change is escalating and building up,” Dr Tobin said.

“With ever decreasing opportunities for external assistance, fishers and the industry need to be able to better help themselves, and perhaps each other.”

The second project associated with the fisher surveys, Beyond GVP: The value of inshore commercial fisheries to fishers and consumers in regional communities on Queensland’s east coast, aims to explore the economic contribution of commercial fisheries to local east coast Queensland communities.

“We have long known that the Gross Value of Production, or GVP, is a poor measure of the value of commercial fisheries to communities. The value can extend well beyond that, especially if there is high demand for locally caught seafood,” CSIRO project leader Dr Sean Pascoe said.

By combining the questions of two projects into the one survey, the researchers hope to reduce the survey burden on commercial fishers.

“We’re hoping with this approach of combining projects into one survey, fishers will feel they have invested their time well, and will be keen to participate and share their knowledge.”

The surveys are confidential, and individual participating fishers won’t be identified in the results.

Overall research findings will be discussed directly with the fishing industry, managers, and relevant researchers to help the industry adapt to change, reduce barriers to change, and to better understand the value of commercial fisheries to regional communities.

Dr Tobin and Bernadette Nicotra from JCU will be contacting commercial fishing licence holders and fishers leasing licences on the east coast of Queensland between now and September.

It can be difficult to obtain contact information for all fishers, so if fishers would like to make sure they are included, please contact Renae directly on 4781 5196 or email renae.tobin@jcu.edu.au

For media interviews, Dr Tobin is available on (07) 4781 5196 / 0419 744 499 renae.tobin@jcu.edu.au