In Sept 2009 the industry completed a Discussion Paper regarding optional Governance Models as part if its move to "Oysters Australia." This paper identified a number of key issues:
1. LACK OF R&D INVESTMENT - the industry collects and invests a relatively small 0.22% of turnover in R&D,
2. UNCERTAINTY on R&D Spend - there is uncertainty at a number of levels about ongoing certainty of R&D funding at current levels. These concerns arise from: the effectively ‘voluntary’ nature of R&D collections from SA and Tasmania; potential legal risk regarding the collection mechanism in NSW; uncertainty regarding the long term retention of the current FRDC $ for $ funding gearing model; uncertainty about what will happen with R&D fund matching from the Seafood CRC beyond 2013/14; and industry feedback suggesting state based service models are not always meeting all growers' expectations.
3. LACK OF MARKETING & PROMOTION SPEND - industry relies solely on other organisations (SCRC, SEA and other private organisations) to promote oysters to consumers. Surveys highlight industry’s desire to better promote the oyster industry and its product. There is no mechanism in place that allows the industry to invest collectively and efficiently in marketing, industry promotion and other service (e.g. bio-security, training) activities.
4. LACK OF FUNDS to support a national full-time Executive Officer for OA.
Funding for industry development, operations, promotion and other industry services is increasingly important in every modern food production sector. This project sought to confirm an agreed national funding mechanism for joint R&D, marketing and promotion and administrative support for Oysters Australia (OA).
This project revealed the challenges and options that the Australian Oyster Industry faces. Oysters are losing market share even as the demands of domestic seafood consumers rise, global risks (biosecurity, genetic improvement, market competitiveness) are threatening local enterprise sustainability and viability, and growers struggle to communicate and find common approaches that invest in real responses.
The report has detailed existing funding mechanisms, related state cost impacts, and leverage options. Presentations at regional and state meetings in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania have opened the debate and highlighted Oysters Australia’s need to change its communication techniques so that growers are aware of its aims and achievements.