Implementing an Industry Partnership Agreement (IPA) was needed to provide a more coordinated approach to RD&E and ensure that research funds were utilised in a more cost effective and strategic manner. It also “quarantined” funds to be overseen by the ACA for investment in Abalone specific research, giving the industry greater opportunity for input into the research that was funded and hopefully greater relevance of project outputs. The latest version of the IPA will now allocated 100% of the funding from Australian Abalone fisheries to the ACA for oversight.
This first IPA expired in late 2017 and the ACA Board and FRDC have now established a new IPA for the period 2018 to 2023.
Historically, industry’s focus has been on management and stock sustainability, and the potential for growth through higher harvest levels via upward quota adjustment is limited. Indeed, since 2011/12, the total annual harvest has fallen from 4,450t in 2011/12 to 2,890t in 2017/18 (a reduction of 35%). The industry is one of Australia’s major exporters and the value was around $220 million beach price in 2004/05.
Since then the value of the industry has declined to about $160 million primarily due to a reduction in quota across all states.
The second IPA will be tasked with many objectives, some of which must be focussed on rebuilding of abalone stocks across each state abalone fishery as well as ensuring our products are differentiated and properly marketed into an increasingly better informed and discerning international marketplace.
The industry structure comprises around 700 small owner operator businesses scattered amongst the southern Australian states with little or no capacity to coordinate investment in and manage industry development. Recovering lost industry value and delivering future growth is contingent upon coordinated investment in industry development at the whole of industry level.
The ACA is now established and well positioned with the FRDC to implement its strategic plan and to integrate R&D work across all stakeholders under its leadership. Two distinct needs are involved in any consideration of better national R&D co-ordination for the abalone sector:
1. The strategic issues of R&D prioritization, funding and the linkages to (and support for) both industry development plans and Government objectives of industry development.
2. The operational issues of facilitating effective communication and coordination at all levels (industry/researchers, among researchers, among industry, FRDC. and researchers etc).