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EMS for professional fishers of Moreton Bay: development and implementation

Kellie Williams

CEO, Moreton Bay Seafood Industry Association


The Moreton Bay Environmental Management System (EMS) for commercial fishermen was developed between 2003 – 2006 by industry participants with assistance from an EMS expert from the University of Queensland. This EMS is unique in that it spans a large geographical area, covers over 100 fishing businesses, multiple fisheries and multiple species. It is the first large-scale multi-fishery EMS that has been developed and implemented in Australia.

The process used to develop the EMS has provided a blue-print for fishing and farming groups elsewhere across the country. The EMS was developed using an inclusive, grass-roots approach where the fishermen drove the process, with guidance from a facilitator – as opposed to traditional approaches where a consultant is used.

The EMS is currently partway through a three year implementation. The most significant outcome to date has been a marked attitudinal shift amongst industry participants. The process has been a catalyst for industry development, a higher level of awareness of environmental issues and a strong commitment to continual improvement in environmental performance at the individual operator level. Importantly, the project has built social capital in this previously fractured group, which allows them to now work together on common goals, as they attempt to manage a natural resource shared with many other users.

Regional projects currently underway as part of EMS implementation aim to address the ecological footprint of fishing activities, but also activities undertaken by other user groups that affect the health of the marine environment. Examples include projects that aim to: achieve habitat protection while maintaining resource access, improve water quality, trial and adopt innovative gear designs/devices that reduce the overall ecological footprint of fishing and improve eco-efficiency.

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