What is the best use of a fish?

Paul McShane Fisheries Management

Access and allocation in fisheries raises issues of the best use of a fish. Is it to catch it and sell it (commercial fisheries), grow it then sell it (aquaculture), catch it for fun or food (recreational), catch it for customary purposes (indigenous) or leave it to view in its natural habitat (tourism/conservation). All uses can be beneficial and have financial or social value. In Australia, ecologically sustainable development (ESD) has been prioritised in fisheries legislation, policy, and management. However, the desired optimal community outcomes arising from determination of access (which users can fish) and allocation (what share of the resource they can use) are difficult to ascertain as few metrics of economic or social benefit are available.
The Australian Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) funded a project led by Dr Ian Knuckey of Fishwell Consulting in collaboration with GMRM. We interviewed fishery managers and other prominent stakeholders responsible for advising Australian state, territory, and Commonwealth governments on access and allocation. We found that allocation among jurisdictions (e.g. states) to be inconsistent and seemingly based on political rather than economic decision making. Strategic intent exists in many states to incorporate social value into allocation decision making. However, few social metrics exist in management plans and these factors are rarely considered in formal access and allocation decisions. Thus, determining the best use of fisheries resources remains elusive in Australia and the utility of ESD and its application to sustainable fishery management and optimal community benefit remains unresolved. You can read more in the attached paper published in Marine Policy.

Access and allocation in fisheries: the Australian experience