Valuing mangroves and saltmarshes to improve economic, social and environmental outcomes

Dr Ian Cresswell1



While coastal systems play a key role in the culture, economy and environment of Australia, perhaps the least understood of all Australian coastal systems are its mangroves and salt marshes. One key aspect of mangroves and saltmarshes that has been identified for many years are the ecosystem services they provide that underpin multiple human interests within and beyond the systems themselves. One mechanism to improve understanding is to better quantify the natural assets these systems provide that sustain productive and sustainable livelihoods. Valuing these natural assets is a key step in improving natural resource management practices that in turn leads to increased environmental sustainability.

This presentation describes the interactions between mangroves and saltmarshes with prawn fisheries and ecosystem services provided by these natural assets. Understanding the links between the physical environment and business activities, and quantifying impacts of different activities and the condition of the physical environment, can inform management practices to achieve increased profits and environmental sustainability. Through inventory of natural estuarine assets, associated with the life history of key commercial species, it is possible to identify important coastal wetlands, riverine and riparian areas, including an understanding of connectivity.

Improved understanding of the value of saltmarshes and mangroves can feed directly into their management both in terms of protection but also restoration. As the importance of mangrove habitat becomes better known then land-use decisions, at the local level, can take into account the need to conserve and manage these coastal assets. This is particularly relevant in areas where there is increasing development pressure requiring clearing or degradation of areas of mangroves and saltmarshes. Increased understanding and capacity of local communities provides new opportunities to engage in emerging markets for environmental services.


Ian is a CSIRO Research Director leading biodiversity and landscape science for the management of the environment, while ensuring broader economic and social benefit. He has extensive experience working on environmental issues both nationally and internationally; including in reserve planning, fisheries/wildlife regulation, protected areas and biodiversity discovery.

Ian has worked extensively on the development of major frameworks for conservation and sustainable use, including the establishment of the National Reserve System and the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (NRSMPA) in the 1990s. Working collaboratively with leading scientists from all jurisdictions he developed the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) and the Integrated Marine and Coastal Regionalisation for Australia (IMCRA), as well as the Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database (CAPAD) and the National Vegetation Information System (NVIS). These tools have been critical for standardised conservation assessment throughout Australia.

Ian is actively involved in major multi-institutional collaborations such as the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) and the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), and maintains an active research interest in mangroves, saltmarshes and coastal ecosystems.

Environmental Certification Schemes: a platform for responsible farming practices in Tasmanian salmon aquaculture

Dr Belinda Yaxley1

1Petuna Aquaculture, Devonport, Australia


Working within Australia’s coastal zone, the salmon Industry has a responsibility to manage the marinescapes where salmon production occurs. Independent third-party certification provides salmon aquaculture with a platform that independently assesses the responsible farming practices used to produce salmon and the ecosystem we operate in. Since their inception, multi-standards such as Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Best Aquaculture Practices have promoted responsible farming practices across the globe. Using examples from the Tasmanian salmonid Industry, these practices will be explored in the context of improvements across the industry, improvements which are supported by the aquaculture certification journey.


Belinda Yaxley has a PhD in Zoology and over 15 years’ experience in natural resource management. As the Sustainability and Accreditation Officer for Petuna Aquaculture she is working with certification standards focused on responsible farming and sustainable practices for the company and Tasmanian Salmon Industry but is equally passionate about the application of sustainability efforts and responsible farming practices in all areas of aquaculture and wild-capture fisheries across the globe. This is exemplified by her being a member of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI).

Sustaining more than fish stocks: advances in holistic assessments of the human dimensions of Australian fisheries

Dr Emily Ogier1,2, Dr Alistair Hobday2,3, Dr Jason Hartog3, Dr Aysha Flemming2,3, Linda Thomas3

1Institute For Marine & Antarctic Studies (imas ), Utas, Hobart, Australia, 2Centre for Marine Socioecology, Hobart, Australia, 3CSIRO, Hobart, Australia


What is a healthy fishery? We manage fish mainly through managing people, so Kelvin Cochrane said. The concept of sustainability when applied to natural resources, such as fisheries, was always intended to entail consideration of social and economic, as well as ecological, dimensions.

Historically, formal and third party sustainability assessments of Australian fisheries have focused on stocks, rather than on the human systems supporting the value, capture and use of those stocks. Social and economic factors and their consideration in fisheries governance have been relegated to the political sphere, where decisions about who can catch the fish, and how these and other benefits flow from these shared resources have, in many cases, been made outside of the public management and assessment process.

Recent public debates about the sustainability of coastal fisheries have focused on multiple dimensions of performance and impact, beyond the amount extracted. These have included the distribution of access and allocation across recreational, customary and professional fishers; interactions with listed species; ethical fish welfare practices; ethical labour practices;  food security; energy demand; and economic rent dissipation through tradeable quasi property right systems.

In this presentation we provide a synthesis of a number of initiatives aimed at expanding the scope of fisheries assessment to include human dimensions. We illustrate these new information flows with examples from recent studies, including the Healthcheck for Australian Fisheries, and the Social and Economic Assessment of Tasmanian Fisheries. We then examine how these assessments can support more holistic fisheries governance.


Dr Emily Ogier is a Fisheries Social Science Research Fellow at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies.  She is interested in the human dimension of marine systems, and the way this interaction is governed through both formal institutions and social processes. She manages the Human Dimensions Research Subprogram, which is a national program funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Managing Overabundant Native Marine Species

Mr Jonathon  Stevenson1

1Parks Victoria , Queenscliff , Australia


South Gippsland’s Corner Inlet and Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Parks are home to extensive beds of Broad-Leaf Seagrasses (Posidonia australis) . In recent years native sea urchins (Heliocidaris erythrogramma) have created extensive urchin barrens within these seagrass beds, reducing habitat for other species and making these areas vulnerable to erosion of sediments. This presentation will provide some details of the experimental approaches being undertaken by Parks Victoria to try and reduce the impact of these overabundant native grazers in this critically important habitat.


Jonathon is a Marine Ranger from South Gippsland currently on secondment to support management of marine pests in parks across Victoria.

The influence of nudges on compliance behaviour in recreational fisheries: a laboratory experiment

Ms Mary Mackay1

1University Of Tasmania, Battery Point, Australia


Non-compliance is a tenacious problem in recreational fisheries management; undermining management efforts and creating conflict between user groups. In fisheries management, deterrence-based approaches have traditionally been used to tackle non-compliance. However, enforcement is often limited in recreational fisheries and an alternative to the traditional approach is needed to improve compliance. In this paper we explore behavioural economics and apply nudge theory as the basis of alternative management approaches to boost compliance. Nudge theory argues that through positive reinforcement or indirect suggestions non-forced compliance can be achieved. We test the influence of a nudge based on social norms through an economic laboratory experiment in a recreational fisheries context. Our results show that the presence of a nudge can increase compliance behaviour with a bag limit regulation by 10%. We find that a nudge was more effective when deterrence is low, but its effects become weaker when deterrence is already high. We find that there is heterogeneity across individuals whether they respond to nudge and that risk preferences and gender are significantly correlated with compliance behaviour. This study suggests that nudges are applicable to recreational fisheries since the scale of the compliance decision is on the individual level, in which behavioural incentives, such as social norms, personal morals and values, play a large role. We anticipate that nudges may have the potential to complement and bolster traditional deterrence methods of boosting compliance and this approach could prove successful as a cost effective compliance tool in the marine environment.


Mary is currently a PhD candidate at the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania. Previous to this she completed her BSc. in Environmental Biology and Geography at the University of St Andrews and her MSci in Marine Systems and Policies at the University of Edinburgh and conducted her thesis research in Sri Lanka focussing on conflicts in small scale fisheries. Currently her work aims to gain a greater understanding of current regulatory compliance behaviour of marine resource users and the incentivising of compliance behaviour through indirect suggestion using nudges, rather than additional punitive economic incentives.

Back from the brink: Reflections on culling, conservation and management of fisher-marine species interactions

A/Prof. Melissa Nursey-bray1

1University Of Adelaide, South Plympton, Australia


Throughout history, hunting for seals, whales and other marine mammals meant many species faced extinction. Changes in public opinion coupled with management policies have since meant that some of those species are recovering and in some cases, have perceived to have ‘bounced back from the brink’ – to the extent they now pose a threat to current fishing activity. There is conflict between many fisheries and marine mammals as a result of this new change. In unforeseen ways, the tensions between fishers and what are still often endangered species have had a social, emotional and economic impact. Given both marine species and fishing communities also face ongoing challenges relating to the impacts of climate change and decreasing stock numbers, this issue is emerging as a serious management concern. Using case studies from around the world, including Australia and Sweden, this paper reflects on this new management challenge, and considers ways in which such human-wildlife conflicts may be resolved.


Melissa Nursey-Bray is a social science researcher who focusses on community responses to and engagement in the environmental challenges facing us today. In particular her recent work has examined the impact of climate change and how to adapt to it and the role of social drivers, including conflict, knowledge, perception and power. She has undertaken extensive work on the role of and issues faced by fisheries in Australia, India, South Africa and Bangladesh.

About the Association

The Australian Coastal Society (ACS) was initiated at the Coast to Coast Conference in Tasmania in 2004. The idea was floated as a means for those interested in coastal matters to communicate between conferences and where possible take resolutions of the conference to appropriate levels of government.

The idea was discussed further at the Coast to Coast Conference in Melbourne in 2006 and it was agreed that Bruce Thom develop a constitution of a company limited by guarantee that would operate on a national basis.

This plan was accomplished and in 2008 at the Coast to Coast Conference in Darwin the constitution was ratified and an Executive appointed. The company received charitable status in 2011.

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