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Ithaca College

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and the Environment


The detrimental impact from fishing on various species as well as on the overall ecosystem has increased so much over the years that the Australian fishing industry is currently in jeapordy. Scientists, fishery managers, government agencies, industry, and environmental organizations have therefore been actively developing and researching management strategies focused on finding a balance between fisheries and the ecosystem. A new holistic and promising approach, ecosystem-based fishery management, invested in ecological sustainability and the recognition of the critical interdependence between human well-being and ecological health, is currently proposed as the best solution for fishery management.

This paper will consequently investigate the way in which two states, South Australia and Victoria, are beginning to implement ecosystem-based fishery management (EBFM). To understand why the states stand where they do in terms of implementation, this paper will also investigate the perceptions held by various stakeholders on EBFM, particularly addressing why it is needed, the pace at which it is being implemented, limitations, and ways in which it could approached better. The overall questions for this project focus on: How the states of South Australia and Victoria are beginning to move towards and implement ecosystem-based management into their fisheries and how different stakeholders perceive this movement.

For this study, formal interviews were conducted with fishery managers, conservationists, industry members, and fishery scientists in both states throughout the month of April 2007 and the beginning of May 2007.After the data was collected, it was analyzed to determine which actions in each state are in fact following the principles of EBFM, as well as for trends and inconsistencies of perception.

Results show general agreement between all stakeholders that EBFM is the direction that states ought be heading, but there is great divergence on how and why states ought to be doing so. This is supported by the data obtained through this study demonstrating that South Australia and Victoria are working towards and interpreting EBFM in considerably different ways. Results also show that both states are not necessarily taking actions specifically following ecosystem-based principles, but rather following basic standards of sustainability.

Overall, it is agreed upon by most stakeholders that state governments ought to be taking a more proactive and structured approach to implement EBFM. Additionally government ought to be investing more money into ecosystem-based fishery research so as to fill in the gaps of ecological knowledge and eliminate dispute on how to go about implementation.


Natural Resource Economics | Natural Resources and Conservation


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