The pointy end of strategy planning

The next iterations of the National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy and the FRDC’s RD&E Plan are progressing

Valuable input has been received from stakeholders for the next iteration of the National Fishing and Aquaculture Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Strategy, being coordinated by the FRDC, and also the FRDC’s RD&E Plan.

Input has come from a range of forums including an end-user workshop held in Adelaide in July, meetings with the FRDC’s representative organisations and a national workshop with the Fisheries Research Advisory Bodies (FRABs) in April.

Input for both documents will also be bolstered with input from several studies that have been completed or are in the process of being completed.

These are a capability audit of research capacity in Australia and an overview of all sectors of fishing and aquaculture in Australia that includes some of the external/international drivers.

The capability audit, conducted by RDS Partners, is now completed. It shows that over recent years, especially the five years since the last audit in 2008, investment levels for fishing and aquaculture research have been at a standstill. If considered in real terms it would represent a decrease.

The Strategy Governance Committee, which oversees the development and implementation of the National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy, notes that this data confirms that we are being asked to do more research with fewer resources.

Other outcomes of the capability audit show that there has been a trend of capability moving from state government research agencies to universities, particularly in the eastern states. The Strategy Governance Committee believes the outcomes of this study show that this shift is not creating any gap in research capability.

“The 2013 capability audit shows that themes of the 2010–15 strategy helped to deal with gaps that existed in capability at that time, especially in the area of aquatic animal health,” says Patrick Hone, chair of the Governance Committee.

Another key study forming both the FRDC RD&E Plan and the National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy is an environmental scan of fishing and aquaculture in Australia. This study is yet to be completed but there are some interesting trends, especially internationally.

“The World Bank predicts that not only is global population going to rise to nearly nine billion by 2050, but seafood per capita consumption is expected to rise from about 17.5 kilograms per year to 18.2 kilograms per year by 2030. Thus, there are two factors at play here resulting in increased demand for seafood,” says Ewan Colquhoun of Ridge Partners, who is conducting the study.

In October the Strategy Governance Committee met in Melbourne to discuss and refine the outcomes from the end-user workshop held in July. The Governance Committee confirmed the key issues that the strategy will attempt to address, including:

  • how Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture are managed, and acknowledged, to be ecologically sustainable;
  • security of resource access and allocation;
  • maximising benefits and value from fisheries and aquaculture resources;
  • streamlining governance and regulatory systems;
  • maintaining the health of habitats and environments upon which fisheries and aquaculture rely;
  • people development and capacity building; and
  • aquatic animal health and biosecurity (inclusive of pests).

The FRDC is considering changing the structure through which it prioritises research to a multi-pronged approach that funds national, regional-based and sector-level priorities.

Crispian Ashby, programs manager at the FRDC, says: “While we are aiming to be more targeted in our investment in some key national priorities, we have a range of mechanisms, such as FRABs, subprograms and industry partnership agreements, that ensure that we are funding priorities from the grassroots of fishing and aquaculture.

“We will continue to utilise these avenues both to ensure we are meeting the grassroot needs and that all sectors are getting the RD&E they require.”

FRDC Research Codes: 2014-503, 2013-239, 2014-235

More information

Josh Fielding, 02 6285 0421