Australia: Study confirms value of commercial fishing

Australia: A recent report, titled Socio-economic evaluation of the commercial fishing industry in the Ballina, Clarence and Coffs Harbour regions, has highlighted the enormous contribution commercial fishing industry makes to regional Australia.

"It confirms what we believed and clearly shows the need for the industry to maintain access to the resources it sustainably harvests," said John Harrison Executive Officer of the Professional Fishermen's Association (PFA).

Commissioned by the PFA the report was funded in partnership by the Ballina, Clarence River and Coffs Harbour Fishermen's Cooperatives, the PFA and the Australian Government's Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC).

"The contribution of the FRDC is gratefully acknowledged as this study would not have been possible without their support," said Mr Harrison.

"This report provides a picture of the value and flow-on benefits that the commercial fishing sector delivers to the mid and north coast of NSW. The report looks at the social and economic benefits from the commercial fishing industry activities along the coast line of the areas focused on."

Within the report seven fisheries are covered: lobster, estuary general, estuary prawn trawl, ocean haul, ocean trawl, ocean trap and line and eastern tuna and billfish.

"The weight and value of product caught and processed by the industry show its continued operation is vitally important, both economically and socially, for the local and regional economies in which it operates," said Mr Harrison.

These benefits are quantified in the economic modelling conducted as part of this report, which identified the following flow-on impacts arising from the operation of the industry:

  • The commercial fishing industry continues to make a significant contribution in terms of output, income and employment.
  • Two-thirds of the money generated by the operation of the industry is spent in the local and regional economies.
  • The great majority of employment opportunities associated with the industry are filled from the local communities in which the industry operates.
  • The industry in Northern NSW provides about one-third of the product (fish) landed in the whole of NSW.

"Clearly there is no better indicator than these figures to show how essential the industry is to the local economies. Commercial fishing is the most sustainable source of protein supply in the world," said Mr Harrison.

"The report will be critical in relation to the ever pressing issue of access for the commercial sector. Access is threatened through marine planning processes and other pressures that continually try to preclude the commercial sector. The security of local seafood supply to the people of NSW and beyond is an important issue that should not be lost in this debate."

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