Back to FISH Vol 29 4
PUBLISHED 30 Nov 2021

A challenging year also marked the start of several new FRDC initiatives designed to improve stakeholder consultation and increase the use of research findings

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) Annual Report 2020–21 details the $50.5 million in research and development (R&D) the FRDC managed last year on behalf of its stakeholders in fishing and aquaculture, as well as the broader Australian community.

“In the first year of our new Research and Development Plan 2020–2025 [R&D Plan], we actively managed 407 projects, including 80 new projects, and the results of 96 completed projects were shared through final reports,” says FRDC Managing Director Patrick Hone.

“Our Annual Report 2020–21 details how the FRDC has invested the contributions of the Australian Government, state and territory governments, the fishing and aquaculture industries and research providers in our sector’s R&D priorities.”

Graphic showing FRDC's income for 2020-21 and overall investment in R&D managed by FRDC 2020-21

Five-year R&D Plan

The FRDC’s new R&D Plan is ambitious, aiming to push boundaries and drive experimentation on
new ways to take fishing and aquaculture into the future. It responds to a shared vision for fishing
and aquaculture and aims to deliver impact in five outcome areas, facilitated through the implementation of five cross-cutting enabling strategies.

The plan aligns with key national targets and global commitments, including the shared industry and Australian Government target of building agriculture to $100 billion by 2030 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

A greater focus on end users and an increased emphasis on collaboration with external partners have been central in the first year of the plan.

Improved consultation and priority setting

The FRDC’s focus is delivering its core business: planning, investing in and managing research and development for fishing, aquaculture and the wider community, and ensuring the resulting knowledge and innovation are adopted for impact.

To improve engagement with stakeholders across fishing and aquaculture, the FRDC refined the role of its eight Research Advisory Committees to concentrate on identifying the R&D priorities in each jurisdiction and promoting the adoption of outcomes. Increasing stakeholder engagement and encouraging adoption will continue to be a focus in the coming year.

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic

In 2020–21, the COVID-19 pandemic had a major but varied impact on fisheries and aquaculture. Researchers collected data to understand this impact and the industry’s response and inform future adaptation responses. The report, Impacts of COVID-19 on the Australian Seafood Industry, January-June 2020 is available on the FRDC website.

In the past year, the FRDC implemented initiatives to increase communication with stakeholders to ensure they had the latest information available. These included publishing frequent advisory notes on the FRDC’s website, publishing extra ‘COVID’ editions of FISH magazine and introducing the weekly ‘Message in a Bottle’ e-newsletter (now published fortnightly).

The FRDC’s Research, Development and Investment team adapted to online consultation and meetings, including managing a road-mapping process in collaboration with the industry to guide implementation of the new R&D Plan.

“The last year was a challenging one for the fisheries and aquaculture industry and for the FRDC team and I’m impressed with how well the industry managed that challenge,” Hone says.

“I would like to thank the FRDC Board for its guidance and support and the FRDC staff for their continued dedication and hard work.”