Standard Talk (15 mins) Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

Getting modern fish-protection screens in rivers: principles for effective stakeholder engagement (#125)

Tom Rayner 1 , Craig Boys 1 , John Conallin 2
  1. NSW Fisheries, Taylors Beach, NSW, Australia
  2. Charles Sturt University, Albury, NSW, Australia

Governments have invested over $30 million in screening programs in NSW. A strong understanding of stakeholder motivations and abilities is required to ensure that these programs can be delivered successfully. In this presentation I: (1) review the key principles for effective stakeholder engagement that have progressed modern screening in Australia to date; (2) identify the key barriers to adoption that need to be addressed to facilitate uptake in the Northern Murray-Darling Basin; and, (3) make recommendations for communication activities and engagement approaches that can be used to improve water user consent and capacity. I discuss results of interviews with 120 farmers across NSW, plus a series of face-to-face meetings. I show that water users share three main motivations: to protect fish, to save money and to save water. Over 60% agree that governments should provide support and that the technology should not be made compulsory. This information is then used to recommend communication approaches that can support widespread uptake and realisation of screening benefits in Australia.