A Human Dimensions Research Subprogram presents the FRDC and stakeholders with the opportunity to maximise investment in and effectiveness of human dimensions RD&E for Australian fisheries and aquaculture. This is achieved by: - Providing the Subprogram with capacity to lever greater overall investment in human dimensions RD&E through co-investment arrangements: Capacity to co-invest or directly commission will enable the Subprogram to ensure that a higher number of human dimensions RD&E needs, as identified by RACs, IPAs and other Subprograms, are addressed through successful applications. This capacity to collaborate and co-invest with RACs, IPAs and/or other Subprograms not only acts as an incentive for further investment in human dimensions RD&E, it increases the likelihood that high quality and effective research is undertaken which will meet stakeholders' needs. It will achieve this through a number of mechanisms including: providing funding for appropriate expertise to be included in teams of research applicants; and, creating incentives for more integrated RD&E in which human dimensions research can be embedded in more traditional fisheries and aquaculture research projects. - Providing leadership and coordination where required to draw on a range of expertise to tackle complex problems: Capacity to directly commission or call for RD&E will enable the Subprogram to meet needs for targeted, strategic RD&E to address some of the issues which are preventing improved outcomes for fisheries and aquaculture stakeholders. These include issues such as the previously uncoordinated investment in measurement of the economic and social contributions made by different sectors, in response to which the Subprogram will draw on recognised expertise to develop a common position on metrics, methods of measurement and interpretation. This will in turn increase credibility of contribution studies and the return on investment in such studies.
A National RD&E Workshop was held on 21 September 2018 in Adelaide, South Australia, in which representatives of industry, research, management, and service providers addressed how to make a positive difference to the mental health of people in fisheries and aquaculture.
The impetus for the workshop came from the FRDC Board and the FRDC’s Seafood Safety and Welfare Initiative. Both the Board and the Initiative are responding to the range of tactical industry-led activities commencing or proposed to address falling levels of mental health among members; the need for a gap analysis of available RD&E; and, to better acknowledge the link between mental health and workplace health and safety.
Participants established the level of leadership and commitment, reviewed the current state of knowledge of mental health levels and contributing factors, and compared what strategies supporting mental health are currently available within fisheries and aquaculture with evidence-based strategies from the mental health support sector.
- There is no single seafood industry COVID-19 story. The degree of exposure, impact and recovery for sectors and businesses, whether wild caught or farmed, varied in magnitude, ranging from positive, neutral, negative and in a few cases, catastrophic.
- Between January-June 2020, overall domestic production initially fell but then re-bounded from April 2020 onwards. This can be attributed to the declaration of the seafood supply chains as essential, the easing of COVID-19 restrictions halfway through the period, and the ability of producers to find and adapt to alternative markets.
- Sectors negatively impacted by COVID-19 were those exporting live and fresh product, supplying dine-in food service, heavily reliant on international air freight and affected by movement restrictions.
- Live and fresh export products were significantly negatively impacted due to a decline in both price and volume, e.g. the value of Lobster and Abalone exports declined by 45%, while live and fresh seafood exports overall declined in value by 32% compared with the five-year average for the same period.
- Sectors positively impacted were those supplying domestic retail and take-away food service markets which normally compete with fresh international imports. These sectors experienced a rise in demand and in some cases, price. As a result, value of these types of domestically sold products generally remained relatively stable with any decline in production volumes offset by rising domestic prices.
- Forecasts of profits for 2020, particularly wild-catch, have been lower. This has been attributed to lower revenues and increases in some operating costs, particularly transaction costs in adapting to COVID-19 prevention measures. Sectors experiencing price gains or successfully accessing alternative markets also experienced substantial transaction costs as a result of adaptation to ensure business continuity.
- Across the industry, business uncertainty related to COVID-19 was amplified by the effects of other factors affecting this uncertainty e.g. bushfires, drought, exchange rates.
- Government support measures have assisted the seafood industry weather some of the negative impacts on profitability and business continuity.
- The COVID-19 disruption continues, and further indirect effects are being experienced. What seafood industry recovery looks like and how resilience can be built is still evolving.
- Differences in degree of exposure, impact and recovery will continue across sectors of the Australian seafood industry.
- Data about production, immediate post-harvest, wholesale and processing, transport and freight logistics, and markets activities has been sourced and collated in this rapid assessment to understand how COVID-19 has impacted the Australian seafood industry across its supply chain stages.
- Data gaps exist. Timely access to near-real time data from all jurisdictions and from major seafood markets is needed to enable more targeted economic analysis at the sector level. This is particularly the case for aquaculture sectors.
- Further assessment of longer-term and emerging impacts based on more timely and comprehensive data will further support the Australian seafood industry in being prepared for future disruptions.
• Provide leadership and coordination where required to draw on a range of expertise to tackle complex problems. Capacity to directly commission or call for RD&E enabled the Subprogram to meet needs for targeted, strategic RD&E. The capacity to co-ordinate complex multisectoral and multijurisdictional RD&E avoided unnecessary duplication, enabled economies of scale to be realised, and ensured comparability of results.
• Lever greater overall investment in human dimensions RD&E through co-investment arrangements. Co-investment with stakeholders enabled the Subprogram to be more cognizant of and responsive to their needs, for appropriate human dimensions expertise to be included in teams of research applicants and for human dimensions R&D to be more effectively integrated in traditional fisheries and aquaculture research projects.
• Delivering and sharing social and economic benefits is core business for sustainable management now, and tools are in place to support assessment, decision making and policy design
• Levels of community trust and acceptance are stronger, and more positive impact is within reach through more effective engagement
• Behavioural insights can be harnessed to support compliance, innovation, adoption of best practice
• Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture have evidence of their contribution to economic and social wellbeing at the national and state level
• Price and productivity improvements can be incorporated into fisheries management
• Preparedness for future uncertainty and global shocks is stronger because of learnings from impacts and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption.