In brief

Minister reviews new 2015–20 RD&E Plan

The FRDC’s new Research, Development and Extension Plan (RD&E Plan) and its implementation were key components of the FRDC’s annual planning workshop with stakeholders, held in Canberra on 31 March and 1 April.

At the planning workshop there was widespread support for what the FRDC is trying to achieve with its new plan and stakeholders provided feedback on the plan content before it was finalised.

The FRDC board has reviewed the plan and incorporated stakeholder feedback into the final document. The 2015–20 RD&E Plan has now been submitted to the Australian Minister for Agriculture and his parliamentary secretary for approval before implementation on 1 July 2015.

The FRDC’s new RD&E Plan represents a significant evolution in the way the FRDC plans, prioritises and invests in RD&E.

Under the plan RD&E will be funded in three areas with a national focus on:

  • ensuring Australian fishing and aquaculture products are sustainable and acknowledged to be so;
  • improving productivity and profitability; and
  • the development of emerging aquaculture opportunities.

Industry sectors and regions will have a greater leadership role developing their own strategic RD&E priorities.

The FRDC will use three approaches to implementing the RD&E Plan.

Lead: The FRDC will lead priority setting for RD&E with a national focus and will allocate a significant amount of the Australian Government Public Good funding to the three national priorities.

Collaborate: The FRDC will provide mechanisms and incentives for those under partnership agreements to leverage funding where there is alignment with priorities at the national level.

Partner: Under agreements made between the FRDC and industry sectors or regions, there will be greater responsibility given to the RD&E end users to set priorities.

Funding for this RD&E comes from industry contributions, the matching dollars from the Australian Government and some Public Good funding for the regions.
Information on the plan, including the draft sent to the minister, is available on the FRDC website.

Innovation award to help oysters shape up

Photo of frdc executive director Patrick Hone with Emma wilkie, 2015 Science and Innovation award recipient, and frdc chair Harry woods (From left) FRDC executive director Patrick Hone with Emma Wilkie, 2015 Science and Innovation Award recipient, and FRDC chair Harry Woods.
Photo: Steve Keough

What do you look for when you shop for Sydney Rock Oysters? Plump meat sitting in a beautiful cupped shell?

The perfect shell ratio for restaurants and processors is 3:2:1, according to researcher Emma Wilkie, where three is the oyster’s length, two is the width and one is the depth.

To help with her research to breed oysters with this sought-after shape, she has received a grant of up to $22,000 as the winner of the FRDC-sponsored 2015 Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture.

“With this shell ratio, they’re cuppy rather than flat. This adds value to their marketability in terms of awards and how they look and present on a plate,” she says.

Emma Wilkie works for the industry-owned Select Oyster Company and says farmed oysters have been selectively bred for disease resistance and rapid growth but sometimes grow flatter than their wild counterparts.

She plans to use her award to develop husbandry guidelines to improve shell shape for the $35-million-a-year Sydney Rock Oyster industry. Her project will include comprehensive best-practice instructions, a cost-benefit analysis of each husbandry technique, access to seed for farmers, photos and a DVD.

The Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture is a competitive grants program that supports young scientists, researchers and innovators to undertake a project on an innovative or emerging scientific issue.

The awards are announced at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Outlook conference in March each year.

$3 million funding to grow white fish for the future

The Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, has announced $3 million funding from the Rural Research and Development for Profit Grants Program for research into Australian Yellowtail Kingfish aquaculture production.

The research program consortium members – the FRDC, Cleanseas Tuna, the South Australian Research and Development Institute and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries – have welcomed the announcement. FRDC executive director Patrick Hone said:

“The funding is a significant boost to the industry investment already planned for Yellowtail Kingfish aquaculture across Australia. It will contribute greatly to the goal of establishing an environmentally sustainable source of locally produced high-quality white-flesh fish.”

Fine Food Champions

Photo of Briefs Oyster Champion The NSW Food Authority sponsors the Champion Sydney Rock Oyster Exhibit, and (from left) their CEO Polly Bennett presents the annual trophy to winners Jo-anne and Gary Rodely from Tathra Oysters.
Photo: Paul McMIlan

Tathra Oysters, located on the New South Wales south coast, took out top honours at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show Summer Aquaculture competition for a record 12th year running, winning the coveted Champion Sydney Rock Oyster Exhibit from a field of 34 entries.

Exhibitors from Far North Queensland also had a successful show, with Daintree Saltwater Barramundi Fish Farms, from Mossman, taking out Champion Large Whole Fish Barramundi, and Pacific Reef Fisheries, from Ayr, winning Champion Fresh Fish for its Sashimi Grade Pacific Reef North Queensland Cobia.

Canberra’s Pialligo Estate celebrated its third consecutive win for Champion Salmon Product, with the accolade this year going to the Pialligo Farm Traditional Smokehouse, Premium Smoked Salmon (500 grams).

The Aquaculture Competition attracted 109 entries, with a total of 60 medals awarded including nine gold, 20 silver and 31 bronze.

This year was the first time the summer and spring aquaculture competitions were amalgamated – judges tasted their way through a seafood smorgasbord of prawns, oysters, salmon, trout and other fresh fish.

Chief judge for aquaculture John Susman commended this year’s exhibitors on a bumper competition.

Full results are available at the: Royal Agricultural Society of NSW website.