Off the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, the fish species, Snapper and Pearl Perch, are favourites for recreational fishers. But their popularity has taken a toll and stocks are in decline.
To rebuild numbers, the Queensland Government introduced closures and catch limits in 2020. Water devices were installed to help fishers target other species but the decline in Snapper and Pearl Perch continued.
When regulation failed to adequately reduce overfishing of these species, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, on behalf of the Australian Government, sought ideas for changing fishers’ behaviour.
Tapping into our expertise as partnership brokers, Currie brought together Social Marketing @ Griffith, the Centre for Marine Socioecology, SCF Australia and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in a partnership that harnesses each organisation’s social marketing expertise, and industry knowledge and networks.
Together, we applied a social marketing approach to tackling the challenge. Through a five-step process starting with co-design workshops, we sought to understand the challenge and people involved, and selected a target behaviour.
Having identified barriers and drivers to changing that behaviour, we co-created a social marketing campaign – Switch Your Fish. The campaign strategy was to motivate fishers to catch alternative fish species – Amberjack, Cobia, and Mahi Mahi – instead of Snapper and Pearl Perch.
The campaign tactics targeted men, aged 25-55, who live on the Sunshine Coast and have an interest in fishing. We used eNews, reels, videos, and other media efforts to raise awareness, and engaged the fishers through boat ramp signage, taste-testing, and celebrity speakers at events.
We involved social influencers, local fishers, chefs, and TV fishing show hosts to demonstrate to fishers how to catch and cook the alternative species.
The campaign – from April to September 2021 – reached more than 20,000 individuals of the target audience on Facebook (of the estimated 38,600 to 45,400 males aged 25-55 years old, located on the Sunshine Coast with an interest in fishing). But most importantly, data shows that more fishers at the pilot site – compared to those at a control site – targeted Cobia and Mahi Mahi during the campaign.
Science papers from the project provide insight for future voluntary interventions that seek to change fishers’ behaviours. Switch Your Fish won gold at the 2022 PRGN Best Practice Awards, was showcased at the Change 2022 conference and featured at the 2022 International Social Marketing Conference.