Managing humans is at the heart of good fisheries management. According to Dr. Rob Stephenson, Principal Investigator with the Canadian Fisheries Research Network, “It is no longer only about the ecological aspects. Fisheries management has to consider the ecological, social, economic and institutional factors together to get the balance right.”

In March 2014, more than 45 of Australia’s top industry, fisheries management and research representatives met at a two-day workshop funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) at SARDI (South Australian Research and Development Institute) Aquatic Sciences to discuss the global trend towards ecosystem based fisheries management (EBFM) which integrates the ecological, social and economic elements of fishing into a management framework.

Dr. Stephenson, who facilitated the workshop, is currently working to link academics, industry and government in collaborative fisheries research across Canada.

“Australia is starting to think about EBFM generally, and SARDI, PIRSA and FRDC are showing leadership and vision in getting top management, industry and researchers together to talk about this now. It’s very timely.

“The importance of good communication linking networks of government, industry and academics is critical so that each sector understands all the perspectives of ecosystem based fisheries management and how they relate across fisheries, industry, the community and politics,” he explained.Sean Sloan (PIRSA) Dr Kate Brooks (FRDC) Rob, Professor Gavin Begg (SARDI) Professor Mehdi Doroudi (PIRSA)

FRDC Social Science Research Coordination Program Manager and South Australia Fisheries Council member, Dr. Kate Brooks, said it was exciting to see how far fisheries management had progressed over the past 10 years. “It was once thought social aspects weren’t relevant to fisheries, and that they couldn’t be incorporated into fisheries management. What is coming out of this meeting is that social decisions are being made implicitly within political decisions or as unintended consequences of another decision. We now need to move forward and ensure these aspects are considered explicitly along with the ecological objectives so that it is clear what action needs to be taken.”

PIRSA (Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia) Fisheries and Aquaculture Executive Director, Professor Mehdi Doroudi, led presentations given by Australia’s State and Commonwealth fisheries directors. He told the workshop South Australia’s recent snapper closures highlighted the importance of including the social and economic aspects for the decision to be accepted and successful.  

The event was organised by SARDI Aquatic Sciences Research Chief, Professor Gavin Begg, PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture Director of Policy, Sean Sloan, and FRDC social scientist, Dr. Kate Brooks.

Appearing in photo: Sean Sloan (PIRSA), Kate Brooks (FRDC), Rob Stephenson (CFRN), Gavin Begg (SARDI), PMehdi Douroudi (PIRSA)

Report from the workshop is now available online. Click here for access.