New plan, new approach

Extensive consultation with stakeholders has helped to clarify the long-term aspirations of Australia’s fisheries sectors and identify challenges to be overcome

By Josh Fielding

Ensuring the product of Australian fisheries and aquaculture is sustainable, and is seen to be sustainable, will be one of three leading investment priorities for the FRDC in the next five years. Research priorities, developed together with stakeholders, also include improving the productivity and profitability of the industry and developing key aquaculture opportunities.

At its inception in 1991, the FRDC’s focus was primarily on research for the management of commercial wild-catch fisheries. Since then, the FRDC has evolved to reflect the broad fishing and aquaculture stakeholder base and the increasing sophistication of these end-users. It now includes research, development and extension (RD&E) for economic and social drivers of change across the fishing and aquaculture sectors (commercial, Indigenous and recreational), as well as sustainability.

The end-users of the FRDC’s knowledge creation face an increasingly complex operating environment with greater risks and opportunities. The FRDC’s core commitment to RD&E planning is to work with clients to focus and facilitate RD&E investments that deliver.

The key to achieving these results and outcomes for our stakeholders lies in the FRDC concentrating its role in three areas: leadership, collaboration and partnership (Figure 1).

Figure 1 The FRDC's role in driving RD&E investment

The FRDC will invest in RD&E directed by stakeholder priorities via five broad programs that align with the objectives of the Primary Industries Research and Development (PIRD) Act – environment, industry, communities, people development, and extension and adoption.

The new RD&E Plan will see the FRDC implement a major evolution in the way it invests. The FRDC will be more targeted in fewer high-level national priority areas focusing on achieving outcomes.

Previous RD&E Plans have tried to cater to a diverse range of end-user needs and wants. This does not mean that priorities outside these areas will not be funded; however, there is more ownership of these priorities given to the sectors and Fisheries Research Advisory Bodies (FRABs).

Over the next five years the FRDC will take a leadership role and target its investment in RD&E to deliver results against three key priorities:

  • ensuring Australia’s product is sustainable;
  • improving productivity and profitability; and
  • developing key aquaculture opportunities.

The FRDC will also take a leadership role in national initiatives of RD&E comprising:

  • aquatic animal health and biosecurity;
  • recreational fishing;
  • Indigenous fishing and aquaculture; and
  • people development.

The FRDC Plan aims to minimise duplication and to deliver other key planning documents to determine where the FRDC can provide a leadership role and ‘fill the gaps’. In doing so, the FRDC will link and align with national initiatives and sector plans.

The goal is to also align with national or sector marketing approaches linking to RD&E, in particular the need for market research, development of materials and evaluation of activities.

The FRDC will continue to bring people together to be as efficient as possible in achieving outcomes for our stakeholders. However, the FRDC acknowledges that as some issues cross multiple boundaries or sectors (national issues) a much more proactive leadership role is required by the FRDC to achieve results.

Developing priorities

Consultation began at Seafood Directions in October 2013 to clarify long-term aspirations and priorities, build a nationally agreed vision, map international market trends and understand production opportunities/constraints.

The FRDC consulted with wild-catch fisheries, aquaculture, Indigenous fishers, recreational fisheries managers, research providers, workforce development and post-harvest representatives and fisheries managers from both state and federal government bodies.


  • Discussion at Seafood Directions 2014.
  • The annual stakeholder workshop held with the FRABs in April 2014.
  • The FRDC Board strategic planning workshop.
  • Several meetings with the FRDC’s representative organisations.
  • An end-users workshop in July 2014.
  • The National Seafood Industry Leadership Program (NSILP) Seafood Community Think Tank organised by graduates of the program from 2013.
  • Research projects providing sector-specific data.
  • Development of the FRDC RD&E Plan was conducted in parallel with development of the National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy, sharing inputs from consultations on this.
  • Consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and staff.

More information

Josh Fielding, 02 6285 0421,