Table of contents
Reporting guidelines


Download PDF version of the March 2020 Stakeholder Briefing



Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic is a fluid situation that is impacting all aspects of our lives, with varying impacts across Australia and the world. It is important people seek the best, most up to date information:

  • The Australian Department of Health updates the ‘Health Alert’ page every day with the latest medical advice and official reports.
  • For questions about testing or the welfare of people with the virus, contact your state or territory health authority.
  • The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee makes decisions on immigration and travel policies to manage international health risks on behalf of the Australian Government.
  • Australians travelling overseas are encouraged to regularly review the Smartraveller website and subscribe for updates.
  • The Coronavirus Health Information Line is available to call 24hrs, 7 days per week for information on Coronavirus 1800 020 080. 

FRDC Response

Since January the staff and Board have been closely monitoring and planning how best to address the COVID-19 outbreak. We will provide updates as they come on a COVID-19 page on the FRDC website.

The starting point for FRDC is the welfare and safety of the staff and our stakeholders.

Safety First - The FRDC is strongly committed to a policy that facilitates work activities being carried out safely, and that enables all possible measures to remove (or at least reduce) risks to the health, safety and welfare of its employees, contractors, volunteers, visitors so far as reasonably practicable.

The situation remains fluid, with changes occurring regularly. The FRDC will review and update its policies and actions as often as needed, providing updates via the website.

As of Monday 16 March, the FRDC staff were provided with the following guidance:

  • Minimise face to face meetings – opt for telephone or digital meetings.
  • Attendance at any meeting of 10 people requires the Managing Directors approval.
  • All staff travel (interstate) is to be minimised and will require Managing Directors approval.
  • No international staff travel – see note on bursaries below.
  • Staff will be provided the tools to work from home.
  • It is important staff who are unwell with flu symptoms (potentially COVID-19) need to be mindful they can impact on both staff and family.

The FRDC will continue to monitor the situation with regards other meetings and conferences scheduled for later in the year.

  • Trade Bursaries and Leadership Programs postponed

Due to safety concerns and travel restrictions On Tuesday in consultation with the team decided that it was in the best interest of all to cancel the 2020 seafood trade bursary and leadership bursaries to Brussels. He notified the participating countries – US, UK and Canada of our decision. To highlight the speed of decisions, over the following days, Seafood Expo Global (Brussels) was cancelled and all travel from the US to Europe was also cancelled. FRDC has also cancelled the bursaries for the June World Recreational Fishing Conference to be held in Rotterdam. The National Seafood Industry Leadership Program is also postponing all the sessions. We will continue to monitor the situation with regards the two big international conferences scheduled for later in the year.

Due to rising health concerns and travel restrictions the FRDC decided that it was in the best interest of participants to cancel all International Travel Bursaries until conditions improve. This includes the 2020 Seafood Trade Bursary to the Seafood Expo Global (Brussels) and the World Recreational Fishing Conference to be held in Rotterdam. The National Seafood Industry Leadership Program is also postponing sessions.

  • FRDC Projects

The FRDC are aware that the current COVID-19 restrictions may impact on researchers and staff working on projects. As noted above, the FRDC focus is on ensuring the health and wellbeing of all our stakeholders. If you are working on a project and activities such as fieldwork are likely to be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions, just send an email to to request a variation outlining what aspects of the project are likely to be delayed.

The FRDC staff will be catching up on project management activities during this period. This could also be an opportunity for our project investigators to also use this time to catch up on any reporting that may be due such as milestone and draft final reports. These can also be sent to for us to process and review.

  • Free version of Microsoft Teams collaboration software

As noted above the FRDC is trying where possible to move from face to face meetings over to teleconferences. Although you can join FRDC hosted Teams meeting without signing for a Teams account, Microsoft, as part of their response to the COVID-19 outbreak, is making freemium versions of Teams available for free. It is a good opportunity to sign up for a free account if you do not already have one to make use of added collaboration features and reduce some face to face meeting time.

  • Fisheries Management COVID-19 Response

Government and Fisheries Agencies across Australia are all looking at the issue – both internally and externally. Each jurisdiction is looking at the options for assisting industry to deal with and manage the impacts of the pandemic. For information on assistance being provided, stakeholders are encouraged to contact their relevant fisheries management agencies. The Seafood Trade Advisory Group (STAG) is providing updates on the impact on trade in particular the China market – the updates can be found at:

  • Food safety

FSANZ is reporting that previous experience with outbreaks of illness due to MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and other respiratory viruses (e.g. avian influenza) suggest that novel coronavirus may have been transmitted from animals to humans. However, transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with novel coronavirus to date. 

Investigations to identify the source of the outbreak, the extent of spread of the infection, and mode(s) of transmission are continuing. FSANZ will continue to monitor developments and liaise with the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, state and territory health authorities and international counterparts to assess the possibility of foodborne transmission of the virus.

The National Fisheries Institute in the United States have developed the Seafood Safety and Covid19 website which provides some helpful information, frequently asked questions (with great authoritative references from international food safety authorities) and key messages, all focused on seafood safety and Covid19.

FRDC Chair Changes

The Hon. Ron Boswell’s resignation as Chair of the FRDC board was announced in January. The FRDC and community thank Ron and acknowledges his exceptional commitment and contribution to the Australian fishing and aquaculture sectors.

During his long-serving career in the Australian Senate, Ron Boswell had a well-known passion for the fishing and angling sectors. And in 2016, he joined the FRDC Board where he has worked actively with the fishing sectors – commercial, recreational and Indigenous – overseeing significant improvements, growth and change.

Welcome John Williams the new FRDC Chair

Mr John Williams has been appointed the FRDC Chair from 10 March 2020. John Williams was elected to Federal Parliament in 2007 as Senator for NSW and was sworn in on 26 August 2008.

John was born in Jamestown SA, but has lived most of his life in the Inverell district in the New England region of NSW. Prior to entering politics, he had been a truck driver, shearer, farmer and a small business owner.

With this background, John understands regional Australia and the issues small business operators deal with every day. John is a strong advocate for the reduction of red tape in small business to allow businesses to not only survive and compete but to grow and prosper. His vision is for regional Australia to obtain adequate funding to maintain rural communities and facilities, and maintain the way of life so many people enjoy.

Ministerial Changes

David Littleproud has taken over as Minister for Agriculture after the resignation of Senator Bridget Mackenzie on 2 February 2020. Senator Jonathon Duniam is continuing in his portfolio of Forestry, Fisheries and Regional Tourism.

Federal Government Department Changes

The Departments of Agriculture and Environment have been merged to create the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. The restructure was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison December 2019 and the new department commenced operations on 1 February 2020

The new department has brought together the former Department of Agriculture and the environment functions from the Department of the Environment and Energy. The reform is a merging of departmental resources, not portfolios which are held by Ministers David Littleproud (Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management), Sussan Ley (Environment) and Assistant Minister Jonathon Duniam (Fisheries, Forestry and Regional Tourism).

FRDC Funding Round Update

The latest open call funding round for the FRDC closed on 16 February. There were around 50 applications received which will now be assessed by the RACs, IPAs and subprograms during their March/April meetings with some of these now being held by teleconference.

FRDC’s process of evaluation now involves an external review of applications when recommended for approval by the RAC/IPA/Subprogram. This review occurs prior to the formal evaluation by FRDC. Applicants can expect to be informed of the next stages of their application evaluation after the RAC meetings and external reviews have been completed.

FRDC’s next Research Development and Extension Plan 2020-2025

FRDC is on track to produce its plan for 2020-25 by mid 2020. The plan will outline key result areas that FRDC will work towards in collaboration with our stakeholders over the next five years, through investment in research, development and extension (RD&E), with performance indicators to monitor progress.

Consultation to inform the new plan has been extensive, comprising approximately ten workshops over eight months involving participants from across each of the five sectors of the fishing and aquaculture community, fisheries managers, researchers and conservation NGOs.

Workshop participants collaborated to develop and later explore alternative scenarios of the future, and insights and implications were recorded and collated into 14 themes.

FRDC RDE Planning - Diagram outlining 14 possible scenario future states


Themes identified were then used in defining clear, ambitious intended outcomes, to form the basis of FRDC’s 2020-25 draft RD&E Plan, summarised below:

Draft-RDE Plan mapping priority themes to outcomes

To expedite pursuit of the above-described five outcome areas, it is proposed that FRDC invest in five enabling strategies, illustrated by the blue rings in the figure below. Draft enabling strategies focus on allowing the full power of data, advanced analytics and services to be harnessed for future decision-making; increasing impact from investment in R&D; and realising the highest potential of our fishing and aquaculture community.

Draft RDE Plan priorities circle diagram

RDC will be exploring opportunities to meet with Directors of fisheries in each jurisdiction, and key sector representatives during March to discuss insights generated, and seek input to elements of the draft plan, as well as future consultative and investment structures.

The plan will be finalised in June 2020.

We will continue to provide more information on the FRDC RD&E Plan web page.You can also share your thoughts and ideas to

Innovation Update


EvokeAg was held 18-19 February 2020 at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. This year FRDC partnered with AgriFutures to sponsor the conference, taking the opportunity to run a panel session, which showcased areas of opportunity within the blue economy space. The panel featured David Carter from Austral, and Pia Winberg of Phycohealth. The FRDC had two stands which showcased the organisation’s innovation activities – Tekfish and Blue-X – and gave the opportunity to meet investors and stakeholders.

The FRDC is also in the process of identifying challenges faced in the aquaculture, fishing engineering and traceability areas with the view to identifying innovative solutions and investment to help resolve the identified challenges. We will be contacting stakeholders in March and April to help identify these challenges.

For more information on Tekfish and the FRDC’s other innovation activities please visit /investment-innovation-technology

Commonwealth fisheries resource sharing framework: Discussion paper

The Australian Government is developing a Commonwealth fisheries resource sharing framework to ensure fair and reasonable access among commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers to our shared marine resources in Commonwealth-managed waters.

The Department has now released the discussion paper for stakeholder feedback. This discussion paper was informed by our consultation with stakeholders over the last 6 months.

Submissions and other feedback will be used to prepare a draft framework, which will be released in the future for further consultation. Subject to travel restrictions the Department intend to hold a workshop and/or some smaller meetings with stakeholders to discuss this later in the year (the stakeholder workshop that was to be held next week has been postponed).

Go to to access the paper and information on how to make a submission. You can then upload your submission to help develop a draft framework that meets the needs of all stakeholders. Submissions close on 30 April 2020.

Impact on seafood sector from recent bushfires

Many seafood businesses in NSW, Victoria and South Australia have been impacted by the disastrous bushfire season that ripped through large swathes of area near the coast in the summer months. Impacts include direct, such as the loss of the Abalone processing factory in Mallacoota to fire, and other indirect effects such as business disruption and the loss of income due to market access restrictions from road closures, spoilage of product from electricity failure and loss of fishing time.

Furthermore, recent rainfall in bushfire affected areas has further impacted on businesses such as oyster farms through increased sediment flow and water quality issues in estuaries and waterways caused by the loss of vegetation from bushfires. In places like Gippsland there have also been fish-kill events from high rainfall in bushfire affected areas.

If you or someone you know have been impacted in any way by the bushfires, please read the Australian Bushfire Recovery Factsheet which contains information on who to contact, how to claim the Bushfire Disaster Recovery Payment and what support is available..

Digital Data Sharing and Collection

The volume of data collected from machinery, sensors and digital technologies has been growing and will continue to do so. Some, if not most, of that data is held or transmitted through by third parties. To increase trust and mitigate risks associated with third-parties, steps need to be taken.

FRDC has authored a discussion paper to help inform internal FRDC policies and strategies to minimise risks and extract value in relation to digital data. It aims to give confidence in relations to data being stored, used and shared to facilitate innovation by:

  • Raising awareness around data ownership through copyright, contracts and licensing
  • Building trust and confidence through measures to mitigate risks when using third party cloud service providers that stores data
  • Highlighting current and future developments in the realm of data sharing

FRDC submissions: Inquiries and Reviews

The FRDC has made submissions to a range of inquiries and reviews over the past few months. It is important to note that in most cases the publication of the submissions is by the secretariat managing that submission. In all of FRDC’s submissions, FRDC has notified that its submission is to be made public. Once they are able to be shared they will be placed on the FRDC web site (/corporate-documents/submissions). The recent submission have included:

  • House of Representatives Inquiry into growing Australian agriculture to $100 billion by 2030
  • Discussion paper on Modernisation of the RDC system
  • Senate inquiry into Impact of Seismic Testing on fisheries and the marine environment
  • Tasmanian Legislative inquiry into finfish aquaculture

There is also a review into the EPBC Act underway.

The statutory review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) commenced on 29 October 2019. Professor Graeme Samuel AC has been appointed as the independent reviewer. An Expert Panel will support and provide advice to Professor Samuel on specific issues.

The review will look at how the EPBC Act has been operating, and any changes needed for Australia to support ecologically sustainable development into the future. All Australians are invited to participate in the review. More information can be found at and

Carp Update

Over the past three years, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) have been undertaking a world-first program to assess the feasibility of using Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (the carp virus) as a biological control agent for introduced common carp in Australia, as part of the National Carp Control Plan. In January 2020, the FRDC delivered its assessment for consideration by government.

Noting there are additional pieces of research underway, the department and the FRDC have decided that integrating key research results into a single document will best facilitate assessment and government consideration of the carp virus’s potential as a biocontrol agent. As such, FRDC will integrate the outputs of this research into a revised version and provide this to the department by mid 2020.

The FRDC’s National Carp Control Plan is one of several important inputs that will inform a decision by the Australian, state and territory governments on the carp virus. In addition to the FRDC’s work, a final decision on carp biocontrol will require further public consultation and regulatory approval.

Sea Rogue screening

The FRDC hosted the NSW screening of the short film Sea Rogue - a collaboration between the SeSAFE project team and Millstream Productions, funded by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the FRDC.

The film captures the powerful story of the loss of the FV Sea Rogue off Ballina in 2008; where deckhand Michael Williams swam 15 nautical miles to shore in an attempt to find help and save the crews’ lives. Sadly, the skipper Charlie Picton was lost at sea as a result of the incident.

The screening was held on the 12th anniversary of the loss of the FV Sea Rogue in Yamba on 27th February, and is part of a larger national marine safety initiative known as the SeSafe Project ( The goal of this initiative is to raise awareness and improve safety performance in the fishing and aquaculture industry Australia wide.

CRC Northern Australia Workshop – Opportunities in Northern Australia

During 2019 a CRC Northern Australia funded project “Aquaculture opportunities in northern Australia: Solutions and Strategies” a workshop was conducted by researchers and aquaculture experts from James Cook University (JCU), CSIRO, Blueshift Consulting, Australian Barramundi Farmers Association (ABFA), Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA) and the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC). The aquaculture situational analysis project is one of eight industry situational analyses funded by the CRCNA in 2017/18. Other industries being examined by the CRCNA include the rice, forestry, cropping, horticulture, bush foods, beef, health and infrastructure and communication sectors.

Key events 2020 – note these events may be impacted by travel restrictions and cancellations



More information

28 Jun – 2 Jul

World Recreational Fishing Conference 9, Rotterdam, the Netherlands


5-9 Jul

Australian Marine Sciences Association/New Zealand Marine Sciences Society 2020 Conference, Sydney


11-15 Oct

World Fisheries Congress 2020, Adelaide


18-23 Oct

International Conference and Workshop on Lobster Biology and Management


Dates for seafood festivals for 2020 can be found on the FRDC FishFiles website 

FRDC board meeting dates and locations



22-23 Apr 2020 


15-17 Jun 2020


19-20 Aug 2020


25-26 Nov 2020

Location TBA/Canberra or Inland NSW

FRDC RAC meeting dates


Research Advisory Committee meetings

More information

18 March 2020


See the FRDC website - /Partners/Research-Advisory-Committees

19 March 2020


31 March 2020


2 April 2020


Projects approved since last update in December 2019

NOTE: some projects may have not yet been contracted

Project Number



Principal Investigator



"If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else" - Future proofing the Australian Mud Crab Industry through improved strategic direction

C-AID Consultants

Chris E. Calogeras



Benchmarking for health and productivity in aquaculture.

Agriculture Victoria

Tracey Bradley



Risk analysis to identify and minimise biosecurity risks arising from recycling bivalve mollusc shell waste during shellfish reef restoration projects in Australia

DigsFish Services Pty Ltd

Ben Diggles



Revisiting biological parameters and information used in the assessment of Commonwealth fisheries: a reality check and work plan for future proofing

CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Hobart

Karen Evans



Can DNA from routine plankton surveys be used to measure fish spawning areas and monitor changes in pelagic ecosystems?

University of Adelaide

Tim M. Ward



Assessing the population biology of Black Jewfish (Protonibea diacanthus) in Queensland

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries EcoScience Precinct

Samuel Williams



Determination of the impacts of direct harvest of coral species in northern Australia

Department of Primary Industry and Resources (NT)

Shane Penny



Engagement for Success: evaluation of engagement events to inform industry management strategies

OceanWatch Australia Ltd

Lowri Pryce



Recreational Southern Rock Lobster tagging program – assessing current data and modelling assumptions and approaches to establish a robust estimate

University of Tasmania (UTAS)

Karlie S. McDonald



Fishing for change: A social marketing approach to reduce the recreational harvest of Snapper and Pearl Perch in Queensland.

Currie Communications

Sophie Clayton



Seafood Marketing Symposium 2020

Queensland Seafood Marketers Association Inc

Marshall Betzel



Southern Ocean IPA - variation to 2018-124: Science to support Australia"s Southern Ocean Fisheries 2018-2020. Addition of printing of the Kerguelen Plateau Science Symposium II papers compilation

Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd

Rhys Arangio



Assessing the impacts of trawl gear on sawfishes in the Northern Prawn Fishery with the aim to identify and test mitigation measures ensuring the long-term sustainability of Sawfish populations in northern Australia

CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Hobart

Gary Fry



Potential transition of shark gillnet boats to longline fishing in Bass Strait - ecological, cross-sectoral, and economic implications

Fishwell Consulting Pty Ltd

Ian Knuckey



Presentation at World Congress of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Xiamen, China) on Biosecurity and Aquatic Animal Health

Pearl Producers Association (PPA)

Aaron Irving



Southern Ocean IPA (Austral Fisheries only) - Chemical profiling of Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) from the Heard Island and McDonald Islands fishery

Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd

Rhys Arangio



Risk factors and management strategies associated with summer mortality in Australian abalone

Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)

Matthew S. Bansemer



Aquatic Animal Health Training Scheme 2019-2022

CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory

Joanne M. Slater



Application of a machine learning approach for effective stock management of farmed abalone

James Cook University (JCU)

Jan Strugnell



Southern Ocean IPA - Updating Australia"s Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement Benthic Fishing Impact Assessment

Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)

Dirk Welsford



The use of dietary intervention with Ulva to improve survival associated with the incidence of summer mortality on farmed Abalone

University of Adelaide

David A. Stone



Economic Mapping of Australia"s Wild-catch Prawn Supply Chain

Ridge Partners

Ewan Colquhoun



Investigate suitability of alternative bleeding practises of Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) post-harvest and their impact on product quality

Nutrisea Pty Ltd

Trent D"Antignana



Industry travel bursary to attend the Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13)

Atlantis Fisheries Consulting Group (AFCG)

Andrew Sullivan



Western Abalone Divers Association 2020 Quota Setting Workshop: Opportunity for shared understanding of potential TACC setting processes by Western Australian Abalone stakeholders

Western Australian Fishing Industry Council Inc (WAFIC)

Basia R. Littlejohn



NCCP: Understanding the genetics and genomics of carp strains and susceptibility to CyHV-3

CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory

Peter Durr



TSGA-IPA: A five-year aquatic animal health research and development program to support the growth and sustainability goals of the Tasmanian salmonid aquaculture industry

Department of Primary Industries Parks Water and Environment

Richard Morrison



The effects of vitamins and feeding frequency on the extension of the colour shelf life and maintenance of flesh quality of fresh and frozen Southern Bluefin Tuna flesh (Thunnus maccoyii)

University of Adelaide

David A. Stone



Integrating indigenous fishing: extending adoption pathways to policy and management

Peter O"Brien Consulting

Peter H. O"Brien



Evaluating the Effects of Seismic Energy on Pinctada maxima Pearl Oysters

Australian Institute Of Marine Science (AIMS)

Mark Meekan



RRD4P: FRDC Contribution: Closing the Loop: Black Soldier Fly technology to convert agricultural waste

Australian Pork Ltd (APL)

Denise Woods



Security of resource access - what is legislative best practice for the commercial seafood industry?

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA)

Jane D. Lovell



Aquaculture Challenge Workshop as part of Tekfish

Food Futures Company Pty Ltd

Christine Pitt



NCCP: Determination of the susceptibility of silver perch, Murray cod and rainbow trout to infection with CyHV-3

CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory

Nick J. Moody



Monitoring and mitigating interactions with dolphins in purse-seine fisheries; literature review and field trials

University of Adelaide

Tim M. Ward



AAGA Strategic & R&D Plan 2020-2025

Ridge Partners

Ewan Colquhoun



Taxonomy of northern Australia"s commercially important Ostreidae

Griffith University Nathan Campus

Carmel McDougall


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