Australia’s professional fishing industries are an essential ingredient for maintaining the economic, social and cultural richness of coastal communities. This two-year research study reveals that both social and economic factors must be considered when measuring the value professional fishing delivers to communities.
The NSW professional fishing industry contributes more than $436 million in revenue annually to the State and generates about 3,290 full-time jobs in fishing operations, service industries, sales and marketing.
The study’s quantitative and qualitative research results may assist in guiding ongoing complex and often heated debate in many regions, prompted by decisions affecting the management of marine parks and coastal resources for professional and recreational fishing.
UTS researcher Associate Professor Kate Barclay, an expert in international tuna industries, said it was the first study conducted in multiple fishing communities to understand the diverse ways fishing industries contribute to their local communities.
“The findings show professional fishing is an essential part of the fabric of communities,” Associate Professor Barclay said. “It supports and is in turn supported by an intertwining range of community life and work-related activities.
“It generates vital income and jobs in rural towns. It is also very much interdependent with other businesses including gear suppliers, mechanics, fuel providers, freight and helps support tourism and hospitality with sought-after fresh locally caught seafood.”
Findings of the research, funded by Fisheries Research and Development include:
- 94 per cent of the general public in NSW believes it is important that seafood continues to be produced in NSW
- 96 per cent believe buying local seafood is better for the local community
- 89 per cent of NSW residents expect to eat fresh local seafood when holidaying on the coast, 76 per cent say it is an important part of their coastal visit experience
- 60 per cent of professional fishers have helped out with search and rescue operations in estuaries and coastal waters
- Fishing is part of the heritage of many towns
- 78 per cent of recreational fishers across the state prefer local bait
“All tiers of government will benefit from the research that can assist decision making that is reflective of local community needs as well as identifying new opportunities,” Associate Professor Barclay said
“Tourists as well as local recreational fishers, eager for a great catch, greatly value the local knowledge professional fishers have to share on the best places to cast a line. They also like buying the local catch and feel they are supporting local businesses.
“Professional fishing is an important economic and culturally sustaining activity in many coastal Indigenous communities as well. It enables greater income, independence and pride among operators.
“Indigenous fishing industry operators and workers contribute a great deal to their communities, sharing culturally important seafood and handing down knowledge, including about the health of fish stocks.
“Australia is a world leader in maintaining healthy marine resources; but right now we are limited in predicting how a serious decline in professional fishing would affect the economic and social fabric of many coastal communities.”
Hundreds of NSW professional fishers, locals, council staff, councillors and other business operators were surveyed or contributed to the UTS study.
Co-researcher, Dr Michelle Voyer said the study conducted in NSW could be replicated in communities that maintain professional fishing fleets in other Australian states, providing invaluable information.
“Much scientific research on biological factors in fishing has been conducted to date, but amazingly almost none until now has been done to understand how professional fishing sustains the social and economic lives of so many regional Australians,” Dr Voyer said.
“Conducting the research involved much coal-face collaboration and input from local businesses and the wider community. It served as a catalyst for communities to take stock of an key area of their lives that they may not have otherwise fully considered.
“We know conditions vary from community to community, but we believe coastal communities engaged in professional fishing in all states could gain much by capturing local knowledge and accumulated intergenerational wisdom to help best plan for their futures.”
Download the final report (PDF, 5.1MB)
|Fact sheets (PDF)||Brochures (PDF)|
|Recreational and Professional (1.3MB)||New South Wales (427KB)|
|Far North Coast (812KB)||Far North Coast (601KB)|
|Clarence (1MB)||Clarence (564KB)|
|Mid-North Coast (868KB)||Mid-North Coast (609 KB)|
|Hunter-Great Lakes (831KB)||Hunter-Great Lakes (381KB)|
|Central Coast (854KB)||Central Coast (440KB)|
|Sydney (1MB)||Sydney (462KB)|
|Illawarra and Shoalhaven (728KB)||Illawarra and Shoalhaven (442KB)|
|South Coast (736KB)||South Coast (508KB)|
|Indigenous People (460KB)||Indigenous People (592KB)|
- Kate Barclay
02 9514-1579, 0435 142-247
- Michelle Voyer