Developing the FRDC 2020-2025 R&D Plan

Much has changed since the FRDC developed its first strategic plan in the early ‘90’s. 

There has been widespread digitisation of enormous amounts of information, development of smart systems that communicate interdependently, a huge decrease in cost and increase in power of computing, increased communication of rich content around the world, and all this has shaped, and been shaped by, shifting societal values, politics and business practices. The result has been increased complexity, uncertainty and unpredictability.

 

Consultation and Engagement

The FRDC’s new plan was informed by a series of reviews, research and extensive consultation. Consultation focused around scenario planning, which can be helpful when planning in an uncertain environment.

FRDC R&D Planning Process Teaser FRDC R&D Planning Process Insights from FRDC R&D Planning Process

The following short video provides a summary of the consultative process to inform FRDC’s new plan - VIEW VIDEO

More details perspectives of the process used to shape FRDC’s new plan can be seen here - VIEW VIDEO

And insights gained from participants involved in the process can be seen here - VIEW VIDEO

 

Stakeholder workshops

The process to derive FRDC’s new plan involved significant consultation and awareness raising over 18 months. Key activities included:

  • Establishment of two national groups of leaders and innovators from across each of the five fishing and aquaculture sectors, management agencies including representatives of the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, researchers, and representatives of conservation Non-Government Organisations to co-design elements of the plan;
  • Engagement of these groups over several workshops to undertake system mapping, scenario development, and analysis;
  • Integration of broader stakeholder input through FRDC’s annual Stakeholder Planning Workshop in Adelaide during September 2019, and regional workshops held in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth during September/October 2019; and,
  • Regular stakeholder updates were provided in FRDC Stakeholder Briefings and FISH Magazine.
  • Comments were invited from a range of stakeholders including
    • Representative bodies nominated by the Federal Agriculture Minister throughout the Plan's development
    • Directors of fisheries agencies from each jurisdiction through the Australian Fisheries Management Forum
    • Research providers through the national Research Provider Network (RPN).
    • Broader input also invited through publication of the draft plan and an accompanying survey on FRDC’s website in March 2020.

Consultation Meetings

A series of regional workshops were convened across Australia, including FRDC’s Annual Stakeholder Planning Workshop to grow the conversation, encouraging a diverse cross-section of Australia’s fishing and aquaculture community to come together and explore each scenario, documenting insights relevant to the future of fishing and aquaculture.

 

Research and Knowledge underpinning the R&D Plan

In addition to the consultation, the FRDC invested in a bank of research to provide a basis from which discussions and strategy development could be undertaken.  This research is outlined below. 

 

Review of FRDC’s performance

FRDC’s new plan was developed with consideration to a recent review of FRDC’s performance. A copy of the report can be found here

Review of FRDC structures

In 2019, the FRDC commissioned an independent review of how FRDC consults and partners. The purpose of the review was to explore opportunities to continue for improvement, to better meet the needs of our diverse stakeholders. 

A copy of the review can be found here

Revealing opportunities for cross-sector collaboration

The detailed consultative process to inform FRDC’s new plan has also provided additional benefit, supporting Australia’s commercial wild-catch, aquaculture, recreational, Indigenous and post-harvest sectors that make up Australia’s fishing and aquaculture community to develop a long-term (10-year) shared vision for fishing and aquaculture in Australia, entitled “Fish Forever, A shared 2030 vision for Australia’s fishing and aquaculture community”. Currently in draft, this shared 2030 vision could offer solid foundation for concerted action by all sectors to address strategic national areas of common need beyond just R&D, once finalised.

 

Mapping the complex system of fishing and aquaculture

A broad collective of innovators and leaders from across the commercial wild-catch, aquaculture, recreational, indigenous and post-harvest sectors, as well as fisheries management and research communities worked together to build - for the first time - a system map of the fishing and aquaculture landscape. The map describes key drivers affecting fishing and aquaculture in Australia, and the relationships between them. Building this map sparked deep discussion among the diverse sectors of how our shared world works, and common language we can use to describe the forces we all feel affect our lives.

The system map provided the groundwork for stakeholders to identify the most critical drivers, which if changed, would alter the entire operating landscape for fishing and aquaculture in Australia.

 

The System Map

Mapping of issues - interactive application

Led by a diverse collective group of stakeholders, the FRDC set out to build - for the first time - a system map of the fishing and aquaculture landscape.

The map describes key drivers affecting fishing and aquaculture in Australia, and the relationships between them. Building this map sparked deep discussion among the diverse sectors of how our shared world works.

The group built a shared understanding of the landscape we all work in, and established a common language we can use to describe the forces we all feel affect our lives.The system map provided the groundwork for stakeholders to identify the most critical drivers, which if changed, would alter the entire operating landscape for fishing and aquaculture in Australia.

 

Scenario Planning - Four futures

Scenario planning  uses cutting edge methods well suited to planning in an uncertain environment . We have been using this approach to work with a broad collective of innovators and leaders from across the wild harvest, aquaculture, recreational, indigenous and post-harvest sectors, as well as fisheries management and research communities, to co-design elements of our next strategic research, development and extension plan for 2020-25.

These drivers formed the foundational dynamics for the development of four alternative possible futures :

  1. A world in 2030 wherein the prevailing motivation is confidence, and influencers are largely unifying and inclusive
  2. A world in 2030 within which the prevailing motivation is fear, and influencers are largely polarising and divisive
  3. A world in 2030 wherein aquatic systems are managed sustainably in an integrative manner, and key environmental impacts are largely known, measured & managed, and
  4. A world in 2030 within which government policy is driven by populism, and key environmental impacts are largely unknown, unmeasured and unmanaged.

Participants then worked together, over several workshops, to consider the implications of each possible future for fishing and aquaculture in Australia.

Of course fishing and aquaculture is only one component of a larger connected system, and so this process also required participants to consider trends relating to shifting social values, climate and the environment, economics, geopolitics, population growth and movement, technology & innovation, and global trade, among others.

 

Scenarios map

 

Data collected was then presented, complete and unfiltered, to a workshop involving all sectors on 20 and 30 October 2019, during which they made sense of data collected, organising into themes, and used the information to develop a strategic intent of FRDC’s 2020-25 R&D Plan.

 

Alternate scenarios

14 themes of data collected from stakeholders participating in regional workshops, elicited in response to alternate scenarios of the future.

 

Identifying priorities and developing models for the future

Working with Dr Kirsten Abernethy from the Human Dimensions Subprogram, we undertook a detailed analysis of priorities identified in existing plans developed by Research Advisory Committees (RACs)Subprograms and Industry Partnership Agreements (IPAs), as well as the Federal Fisheries Minister’s National Fishing Advisory CouncilNational Marine Science Plan and Australian Fisheries Management Forum, to map common themes identified, and compare to priority areas identified from this extensive consultative process.

FRDC has also been working with CSIRO to take the system map developed by FRDC stakeholders, and integrate key elements into a computer model. This is an experiment to see whether it might help inform discussions on possible investments to deliver impact, and what to measure to track progress. 

Preliminary results have been promising, with the model shown to be able to explain a high proportion of the dynamics within the fishing and aquaculture environment. It is hoped that we might also be able to use the model to monitor how the future unfolds in comparison to scenarios developed.

FRDC has also engaged independent consultants to liaise with FRDC stakeholders to review the consultative structures that we use to inform our business. 

 

A shared vision - Fish Forever

This extensive consultative process helped define a shared vision for the future of fishing and aquaculture in Australia, owned by Australia’s fishing and aquaculture community: Indigenous, wild harvest, recreational, and aquaculture sectors, and the industries, services, agencies and organisations that support them. This vision is laid out in the draft document, Fish Forever, which describes what our stakeholders want fishing and aquaculture to look like by 2030, and how we can work together to make it happen.

Some of the key insights this process has revealed are summarised below:

  • There is a critical need to improve unity among all sectors. This will require investment of time and resources to enable the building and maintenance of relationships between all sectors. There is also a need to do so with other key players, including Environmental Non-Government Organisations (ENGOs).
  • Mutual trust and respect must be foundational. Engendering broader community and consumer trust would require (among other things) an effective strategy to communicate the positive attributes of Australia’s fishing and aquaculture community. 
  • Equitable and secure allocation among all sectors was likely to have played a critical role in easing inter-sectoral conflict in all future scenarios. There is merit in considering the capacity of all actors to influence this outcome given its critical nature.
  • There is a need for a sophisticated communication strategy to deliver a shared narrative to the Australian community and consumers. This will require investment in capacity building for all sectors, noting the present capacity deficit in this area.
  • New approaches to extension of R&D were required – by FRDC and others, including a need to reduce scientific nature of extension activities.
  • The Indigenous sector is likely to be in a strong position as a result of their social licence. There is value to be gained in considering traditional ecological knowledge along with other forms of knowledge that are more commonly integrated into decision-making processes.
  • Science was noted as a tool of variable effectiveness in different operating environments, of limited use in a populist world.
  • Australia is in the process of losing small operators. This trend is enabled by prevalent systems of management, and this would need to be addressed with urgency if this trend is to be addressed.
  • Future scenarios which delivered positive outcomes for fishing and aquaculture were noted to have high levels of cost and regulation. Participants noted this to be a likely to be a necessary precursor in order to achieve the high levels of transparency, compliance, and evidence to underpin a fishing and aquaculture community that is highly regarded and well supported in future.

The new planning approach used to derive FRDC’s 2020-2025 RD&E Plan has generally been well received by participants, with many commenting favourably on the way it encourages participants out of their traditional sectoral views to take a shared ‘big picture view’. It is hoped that some of the tools, methods and insights developed to inform FRDC’s 2020-2025 RD&E Plan will also be of use to individuals, businesses, and organisations throughout the fishing and aquaculture community as they contemplate and prepare for the future.

 

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