Fisheries Economic and Social Data Collection

The Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017–2027(SFS) promotes improving Fisheries Queensland’s monitoring and research. Action item 1.5 says that Fisheries Queensland will develop and implement a practical and cost-effective system to collect economic and social data. In the consultation developing the SFS, stakeholders told us that economic and social information about their fisheries should be used in setting management objectives and making management decisions.

Economic and social indicators will provide valuable information for fisheries management, the fishing industry and external stakeholders. Economic indicators can help to demonstrate the profitability of industry and how the state’s resources are being used for the economic benefit of regional communities and Queensland.

Who is collecting the data?

Fisheries Queensland has engaged BDO EconSearch to collect data about Queensland’s fisheries from commercial fishers and charter operators. BDO EconSearch has experience doing this type of work for the fisheries sector in South Australia. They are also involved in Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) projects related to fisheries economics and human dimensions. BDO EconSearch has been engaged to collect these data from commercial fishers in confidence and will supply Fisheries Queensland with aggregated data which cannot be linked to individual businesses.

What will it be used for?

Estimating economic contribution

Fisheries Queensland recognises that there are many ways to ‘value’ a fishery that is accessed by several sectors. A genuine valuation of a fishery has to consider the commercial contributions, the recreational contributions, the social contributions and the Indigenous cultural contributions made. All the different fishing sectors (Indigenous, commercial, charter and recreational) make economic contributions. There are direct economic contributions from the activity of fishing and there are flow-on effects throughout the economy. The economic data collection that Fisheries Queensland is planning for this project, is at the level of the wild capture commercial fishery to the extent where the product leaves the fishing business, plus, information from the fish processors (e.g. the turnover and number of people employed). This will provide better understanding of the economic returns of the wild capture fisheries industry, which is foundational when considering economics in fishery management decisions.

Flow on effects – the wider economy

In addition to this their analysis of direct fishing activities, BDO will be modelling flow on effects from the activity of catching fish to other sectors of the economy using input-output analysis. Input-output analysis is widely used in economic impact analysis and is a practical method for measuring economic contributions at regional and state levels. The flow on effects will include related economic activity by refrigeration mechanics, marine engineers, accountants etc.

© Queensland Government

Predicting the economic effects of alternate management decisions.

Economically, a positive economic contribution to society will be made if the industry is profitable. Fisheries Queensland intends to use the economic knowledge to provide opportunities for industry to increase its profitability. This can be achieved through better management decisions, while at the same time, balancing this against biological, social and Indigenous values across the broader community and environment.

The economic indicators chosen to be collected will allow Fisheries Queensland to better understand the economic benefits or consequences of management options on the profitability and economic returns of the fishing industry to the community. Fisheries Queensland does not propose to compare simplistic economic valuations of different sectors in management decisions.

To determine the most suitable way to collect economic and social information from Indigenous groups we will be seeking collaborations with Indigenous groups in the near future. We are also working with researchers and the FRDC Indigenous Reference Group. Economic expenditure information and social data is also being collected from recreational fishers through the statewide recreational fishing survey and the boat ramp surveys.

An initial short list of economic and social indicators (divided into summary groups below) was developed and were presented to the fisheries working groups and the SFS expert panel. These indicator groups will be further refined and data collection is expected to start in the second half of 2019.

Data will be analysed using economic models developed by BDO EconSearch from the information collected from commercial fishers and from information held by Fisheries Queensland, for example fishery wide catch and effort data. Privacy and confidentiality of commercial fishing data is paramount. Providing economic information to BDO Econsearch is voluntary, they have more than 10 years’ experience working with this type of data and recognise the importance of data security.

Want to get involved?

If you want to get involved and volunteer to be part of the survey, please contact BDO EconSearch directly on (08) 7324 6190.

Shortlist of Indicator Groups with examples

Economic indicators
Indicator groups Examples Use or application
Business cost (fixed)
  • labour (fixed)
  • unpaid labour (fixed)
  • licence costs
  • insurance
Analysing profitability
Business cost (variable)
  • labour (variable)
  • unpaid labour (variable)
  • fuel and bait costs
  • opportunities for new crew to enter a fishery
Analysing profitability
Business operations
  • number of fishing days
  • year vessel built
  • number of staff (direct jobs)
Analysing business practice and operations
Business revenue
  • unimproved product price
  • sales values
Analysing profitability
Capital assets
  • vessel
  • gear
  • equipment
Analysing business apparatus and return on investment
  • target species
  • catch (tonnes)
Analysing business practice and volume of business
  • Bank loans
  • Lease liabilities
  • Creditors
Risk and return on investment
External financial factors
  • fuel price
  • lease price
  • Purchasing power
Understanding financial control and variability
External non-financial factors
  • stock availability
  • demand for fresh fish
Understanding financial control and variability
Financial calculations
  • gross margin
  • profit
  • equity
  • return on investment
Understanding the productivity and value of the fishery
Social indicators
Indicator groups Examples Use or application
Business operations
  • target customer market
  • opportunities for new crew to enter a fishery
Industry mapping and development
Community connections
  • fishers' connection or attachment to place
  • business participation in community activities
Understanding stakeholder/community relationships
  • indigenous views towards fishing
  • relative value of fishing compared to other industries
Understanding cultural importance
  • education
  • age
Understanding the human persona of the fishery
Environmental perceptions
  • perception of ecosystem health
  • perception of environmental impact of activity
Evaluating natural resource awareness and perceived value
Future outlook
  • occupational dependency on fisheries
  • fishers' optimism towards fisheries management
  • willingness to adapt
Understanding the fishery's vulnerability and opportunities
Intergroup perceptions
  • fishers' views of other fishers
Developing intergroup communication strategies
Mental and physical health / satisfaction
  • occupational satisfaction
Evaluating fishers' mental health/satisfaction
  • injuries/accident statistics
Understanding industry safety
  • value of fishing as a 'way of life'
  • perception of standard of living
Understanding sense of purpose/gratification
  • activities that promote sustainability
  • participation in fisheries management program and/or environmental programs
Assessing stewardship and responsibility

Further Information