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Newsroom Releases News Archive To adapt or not to adapt? The question is how

28/07/2014
To adapt or not to adapt? The question is how
What factors influence the level of success of commercial fisheries and how they might need to adapt to change will be examined by JCU researchers.

First published August 26, 2013

What factors influence the level of success of commercial fisheries and how they might need to adapt to change will be examined by James Cook University researchers.

The two-year study has been made possible after receiving funding from the Australian Government’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and is a collaborative effort between JCU, the CSIRO, Fisheries Queensland and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association.

Dr Renae Tobin, Research Fellow in JCU’s Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, will lead the investigation, titled Adapt or Fail: Risk management and business resilience in Queensland commercial fisheries.

Dr Tobin said change in the fishing industry was inevitable, making information about it or how fishers adapt to change increasingly critical.

“We know that change is ongoing and accumulating – whether that be gradual or rapid change, and whether it be environmental, such as cyclones, economic such as the Global Financial Crisis or management, such as marine parks,” she said.

“Understanding and improving how industries cope with and adapt to change becomes increasingly important as rates and cumulative impacts of change escalate.”

Dr Tobin said some commercial fishing operators were better able to cope with, and adapt to change than others.

“In part this is due to the inherent capabilities of some individuals to cope with change, learn, plan, and manage risk. It also relates to access to adaptation options, which may rely on factors such as business structure, diversity of operation, access to information and financial capacity.”

Dr Tobin said businesses needed to be increasingly self-adaptive, but also needed to network with others to learn how to cope with and learn from change.

The researchers will initially explore available information to document business and operation types employed across all commercial fisheries on Queensland's east coast.

From next year they will then talk to as many commercial fishers as they can within each business type.

“By talking to fishers we hope to learn ‘best practices’ for improving fishers’ capacity to cope with and adapt to change, what restricts or constrains them from undertaking change, and how we can encourage ways of sharing information within the industry,” she said.

“We aim to provide information tools regarding adaptation options for different business types to fishers and managers, to enable the improvement of adaptive capacity and hence future resilience across the whole fishing industry.

For interviews, Dr Tobin is available on tel: (07) 4781 5196 or email: renae.tobin@jcu.edu.au

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175