Title:

Socio-economic characterisation of a small scale commercial fishery: opportunities to improve viability and profitability in the Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery

Project Number:

2018-067

Organisation:

University of Tasmania (UTAS)

Principal Investigator:

Jeremy Lyle

Project Status:

Current

FRDC Expenditure:

$249,855.00

Program(s):

Industry

Need

The Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery (TSF) is a multi-species, commercial fishery involving many operators and a diversity of methods and gears. For some operators the TSF represents a full-time business whereas for others it is a component of a larger diversified fishing operation or a part-time activity. A previous socio-economic study conducted in 2002 highlighted substantial heterogeneity in both the nature and scale of operations within the sector. A more recent high-level assessment of economic and social performance found that the TSF was failing to generate economic returns for commercial operators, and the level of benefits to the broader Tasmanian community flowing from the fishery through employment and supply of fresh local seafood were diminishing. Over the past two decades annual landings of scalefish in the TSF have declined sharply from over 1000 tonnes to just 300 tonnes in 2016/17. With few exceptions, catches of many of the traditionally important scalefish species are at historic lows, as is the number of active licence-holders and levels of effort. While several recent management changes have been influential in driving these trends, other factors such as changing market demand, substitution with imported or farmed product, variability in the abundance/availability of some species, competition from the recreational sector; and increased operating costs for fishers have played a role. This project will determine what factors are driving under performance in this fishery through an economic and social characterisation of the fleet and analysis of current supply chains and available markets. This will enable the feasibility of measures to remove these barriers to be addressed, including provision of incentive structures to enable fishing and identification of market strategies that improve economic and social outcomes.

Objectives

1. Characterise the fleet dynamics, capacity and fishing strategies of the Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery (TSF).

2. Profile key social and economic characteristics (livelihood strategies and preferences, ownership and cost structures, attitudes to risk) of the commercial sector of the TSF

3. Assess market conditions and supply chains for Tasmanian finfish species.

4. Identify strategies and opportunities to improve economic returns and broader flow-on of benefits in the TSF.