Over the next 12 months the FRDC will be coordinating the development of two different but equally important documents. These are the National Fishing and Aquaculture Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Strategy and the FRDC’s RD&E Plan.
The National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy is nationally focused and builds on the first strategy, which was developed in 2010.
The next iteration will build on this platform and provide a nationally agreed, common vision for the industry over the next five years, guiding the investment of millions of dollars of state and national research funding.
Underpinning the national strategy is the desire to expand the fishing and aquaculture industries while maintaining high standards for management and sustainability. The strategy will seek to improve the focus, efficiency and effectiveness of fisheries and aquaculture RD&E across all Australian jurisdictions and funding sources.
Potential performance measures could include targets for increased production volumes of value of Australian seafood, and increased participation in recreational fishing.
Changes to the research environment during the life of the current strategy that may influence the new national strategy include a significant reduction in the number of fisheries research facilities, particularly in eastern Australia, which places collaborative research higher on the agenda.
Globally, aquaculture has been expanding rapidly in recent years, particularly in Asia, and production volumes now exceed those from wild-catch fisheries. However, growth of the industry in Australia has been comparatively limited.
A specialist Strategy Governance Committee, run by the FRDC, will help oversee the development of the National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy. Membership of this committee comprises fisheries managers and peak industry bodies from across all Australian jurisdictions. This committee met in Canberra in May.
At the same time, the FRDC is also coordinating the development of the FRDC RD&E Plan, which is focused on FRDC business and future investment.
Joshua Fielding has joined the FRDC as a project manager and is responsible for coordinating stakeholder engagement for both documents.
“We are conscious that there is a lot of consultation going on this year, with the national strategy, the FRDC’s strategy and also the FRDC’s marketing engagement strategy,” he says.
The formal consultation for the FRDC RD&E Plan began with a workshop in April 2014 involving the FRDC’s representative stakeholder groups and members of the Fisheries Research Advisory Boards.
Industry consultation on the development of both the national strategy and FRDC RD&E will occur over the next six months.
“Even though there are some formal consultation points, such as organised meetings, it is important for ongoing consultation, with multiple opportunities to ensure our stakeholders have input,” Joshua Fielding says.
The FRDC’s executive director Patrick Hone says the new FRDC RD&E Plan should be “deeper, not wider” than the current strategy. “We need more targeted investment in research and some clear indications about the success of the strategy, more specific outcomes and performance measures,” he says.
As part of industry input into the national strategy and FRDC plan, graduates of the 2013 National Seafood Industry Leadership Program are also organising online discussion forums and will hold a ‘think tank’ in July.
The contribution of young industry leaders is expected to include both practical considerations and ‘blue-sky’ thinking about the future of Australian fisheries.
Other information to assist the development includes an update of the sector-by-sector overview of the fishing industry that was completed in the lead up to the 2010–15 strategy.
The update will be completed by Ewan Colquhoun, director of Ridge Partners. It will detail where the Australian fishing industry is based, the demographics of the people involved, who is catching what and where, and the industry’s direct and indirect employment.
The updated overview will also provide information on some of the aspirations of the industry, which should help in forming RD&E priorities for the next five years.
This project will rely heavily on input from industry representatives and experts and will work across all sectors (Indigenous, recreational, aquaculture and commercial fishing).
Peter Chudleigh from Agtrans Research and Consulting will also provide a cost-benefit analysis of the 14 themes of the current FRDC RD&E Plan, which will help assess the success of the FRDC RD&E Plan.
FRDC Research Codes: 2013-239, 2014-503
Peter Horvat, 02 6285 0400