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Social License is Vital for Seafood Industry to Combat Negative Perceptions

Sustainability Politics +2 more

UK - Seafish is hosting a special workshop at the end of June to educate the seafood industry on the importance of having a Social License to Operate (SLO), and how it affects the industry in the eyes of the public.

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A social license is a term often used in relation to environmental sustainability to describe the generic understanding of what constitutes acceptable environmental performance in the eyes of influential stakeholders, and the public at large.

Businesses benefit from having a social license in a range of ways including improved market access, a more highly valued product and a greater community and political recognition of fishing’s benefits.

The seafood industry is often the subject of emotive, high profile campaigns, such as ‘Fish Fight’, and there is often a gap between the scientific or evidence based data available and the public perception of an issue. This can be due to lack of knowledge and awareness of what the industry is doing to improve sustainability and lack of engagement with key influencers and the wider community.

The workshop will explain what the concept of 'social license' means for the seafood industry, how it works, why we need to be aware of this as a means of engagement, how it affects the industry and ultimately the reasons for attaining and building high quality stakeholder relationships in this way.

Tom Pickerell, Technical Director at Seafish comments: “A strong scientific basis for something used to be enough to convince people that what you are doing is right. However, a policy position or a personal belief that is "based on the best available science" is far more contestable and less influential these days. In some cases public policy seems to be less evidence based. Beliefs and ideology can be surprisingly influential.

“Because of this gap between science and community perceptions, there is a real risk of limited community approval or acceptance of fisheries management and the wider seafood industry. Therefore it is vital that the seafood industry understands what it means to gain a social license and how they can engage positively with their stakeholders and community to demonstrate shared values.

“Participants will leave with both an understanding of what social license is and what they need to actively do and maintain, to attain and retain their social license.”

The free event takes place on Tuesday 28 June from 10.30 to 15.30 at Friends House in London.

There are still spaces available for those in the seafood industry and places can be booked by contacting Karen Green at

The workshop will be facilitated by Dr Kate Brooks, Director at KAL Analysis Pty Ltd, a social scientist with a unique multi-disciplinary background and first-hand experience working with industry, government and academic forums globally.