Developing the FRDC 2020-2025 R&D Plan

A lot 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, a global pandemic, changes in global trade relations, marine heatwaves, droughts, floods, to name a few. This creates a difficult environment for planning, and requires use of methods that are well suited to dealing with complexity and uncertainty.

 

Consultation and Engagement

The FRDC’s R&D Plan 2020-25 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 R&D Plan involved significant consultation and awareness raising among the FRDC’s diverse stakeholders over 18 months.

 

Consultation Meetings

Participants engaged in systems thinking, were challenged by confronting scenarios, and considered outputs of relevant research, to help consider what the world might look like in the future, and what planning must happen now to prepare.

 

Research and Knowledge underpinning the R&D Plan

In addition to the consultation, the FRDC commissioned a series of initiatives to inform the process, which are summarised 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 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

Consultation to inform FRDC’s R&D Plan 2020-25 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 2030”. Currently in draft, this shared 2030 vision could offer solid foundation for concerted action by all sectors to address shared strategic national challenges through combined efforts. The FRDC can then support those efforts through investment in R&D, enabling synchronised, collaborative efforts towards creating a common desired future for fishing and aquaculture.

 

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

Systems thinking is a useful way to see and talk about the complex reality we live in each day, and can help ensure the right decisions are made, avoiding wasted time, money, and other resources.

In 2019/20 the FRDC worked with a cross-section of stakeholders from across fishing and aquaculture to develop a system map of fishing and aquaculture in Australia.

A copy of the system map can be found here.

The map describes key drivers affecting fishing and aquaculture in Australia the coloured nodes), and the relationships between them (the lines between coloured nodes). Building this map sparked deep discussion among the diverse sectors of how our shared world works. 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, and informed development of the R&D Plan 2020-25. It continues to be a useful resource when seeking to develop solutions to issues affecting fishing and aquaculture.

 

Scenario Planning - Four futures

Scenario planning uses cutting edge methods well suited to planning in an uncertain environment. The FRDC worked 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 explore possible future states. Four alternative possible futures were considered:

  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. A number of themes were identified, summarised below.

Alternate scenarios

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

 

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

  

Identifying priorities and developing models for the future

Additional analysis was also undertaken in collaboration with Dr Kirsten Abernethy from the Human Dimensions Research Subprogram, to explore priorities identified 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.

The most commonly referenced issues include improving management and governance, building societal support for fishing and aquaculture, building capability and capacity, resource access, allocation and sharing, and improving productivity and efficiency.

FRDC priorities and models for the 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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