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Relationship with stakeholders

The FRDC works with diverse and geographically dispersed groups who operate or interact with fishing and aquaculture stakeholders. Some of these relationships are driven by a shared vision of working to address issues of concern, with some reinforced through mandate or legislation.

To meet and deliver on these needs the FRDC board and staff normally visit locations where they can engage directly with those involved in fishing and aquaculture and see issues firsthand. However, this year COVID-19 made it difficult to do this. FRDC is committed through formal policy to:

  • treat stakeholders courteously and professionally,
  • provide them with quality service,
  • respond to written enquiries within 10 working days of receipt by the FRDC,
  • return telephone calls by the close of business on the following day at the latest,
  • provide information that is current and accurate.

Engaging with stakeholders plays an important part of the work program for FRDC staff members. Over the course of a year, the FRDC aims to meet with its key stakeholders and participate in discussions on priorities, investment and related issues.

This year the FRDC engaged with stakeholders to develop the new R&D Plan 2020–25. The journey to develop the new R&D Plan took 18 months and included research, discussions, deep thinking, conflict, resolution, prioritisation, awareness raising and many meetings. 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 DAWE, 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 the FRDC’s annual stakeholder planning workshop held in Adelaide during September 2019, and regional workshops held in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth during September/October 2019.
  • Regular stakeholder updates were provided in FRDC’s stakeholder briefings and FISH magazine.
  • Comments were invited from a range of stakeholders including:
    • FRDC representative bodies 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,
    • broader input was also invited through publication of the draft plan and an accompanying survey on FRDC’s website in March 2020.

Research Advisory Committees

The FRDC supports a network of Research Advisory Committees (RACs) — one covering Commonwealth fisheries and one in each state and the Northern Territory. The RACs play an important role in delivering on efficient, effective planning and investment processes, and the development of project applications. The FRDC works to ensure a majority of research funding applications are submitted through, reviewed and prioritised by the RACs. The RACs represent all fishing and aquaculture, fisheries managers and researchers, and most have environmental and other community interest representation.

The RAC Chairs at the end of 2019–20 were as follows.


Peter O’Brien

New South Wales

Peter Dundas-Smith

Northern Territory

Rik Buckworth


Cathy Dichmont

South Australia

Don Plowman


Ian Cartwright


Peter Rankin

Western Australia

Brett McCallum

For further information on the RACs go to www.frdc.com.au

Industry partners

The FRDC has continued its close relationship with seafood industry sectors. Industry Partnership Agreements (IPAs) are a key part of the FRDC business because they provide individual sectors with greater certainty for long-term investment against their RD&E plans.

Each IPA develops a RD&E plan containing its specific priorities, from which it determines the focus of its annual call for applications. The RD&E strategic plans for the IPAs can be found on their individual webpages — frdc.com.au/Partners/Industry-Partnership-Agreements. These RD&E plans and priorities form the basis of investment for the coming financial year. During the year the FRDC has IPAs with the following organisations:

  • Abalone Council Australia,
  • Australian Abalone Growers Association,
  • Australian barramundi Farmers Association,
  • Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries,
  • Australian Prawn Farmers Association,
  • Australian Southern bluefin Tuna Industry Association,
  • Oysters Australia,
  • Pearl Consortium,
  • Southern Fisheries,
  • Southern Rocklobster Limited,
  • Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association,
  • Western Rock Lobster Council.

Australian Government

The Minister for Agriculture and the department provide the key priorities that need to be addressed from an Australian Government perspective. The department acts as the day-to-day policy intermediary between the offices of the Minister, Assistant Minister and the FRDC.

Australian Fisheries Management Forum

The Australian Fisheries Management Forum (AFMF) is attended by the heads of the Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies responsible for management of fisheries and aquaculture. The AFMF discusses issues relating to fisheries and aquaculture management.

The FRDC understands that adoption of research outputs by management agencies is a key to optimising management outcomes. It will continue to work with the AFMF, participating as an invited representative to its meetings, providing advice and ensuring the AFMF’s priorities are incorporated into planning and prioritisation processes.

Rural research and development corporations

The FRDC continues to partner with other RDCs on a range of activities to enhance joint strategic outcomes. The FRDC attends meetings of the CRRDC, as well as meetings of executive directors, business managers and communications managers. It continues to be an active member of these groups driving a number of key areas in particular the CRRDC evaluation program.

The FRDC also partners and participates with other RDCs at the project level. A key area for collaboration has been the R&D for Profit Program and projects in which the FRDC is a co-investor. The FRDC has assisted in coordinating sponsorship and participation in events such as EvokeAg, AbARES ‘Outlook’ conference and individual projects on data, safety and community perceptions.

Research partners

Investment in research is the FRDC’s core business. As a result, it is vital to the FRDC’s success that good relationships are built and maintained with its research partners. In any given year, the FRDC will have over 400 active projects under management.

A list of acronyms/abbreviations used in this table are on page 179.



Brief description


Collaborating on cross- sectoral issues

Rural Research and Development for Profit Program: Natural Capital Accounting

Natural capital is the soil, air, water and biodiversity — the natural resources used for food and fibre production. This project seeks to determine whether natural capital accounting could support decision making and drive better productivity of primary industries, which depend on natural capital.

Forest and Wood Products, Cotton RDC (CRDC), NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Ecological Australia, HVP Plantations, VicForests, Australian bureau of Statistics, bureau of Meteorology, OneFortyOne Plantations.

Community Trust in Rural Communities

Research program to build the capacity of food and fibre industries to productively engage with the community with the aim of building community trust.

AgriFutures, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Eggs, CRDC, Dairy Australia, Grains RDC (GRDC), LiveCorp, Meat & Livestock Australia, Sugar Research Australia, National Farmers’ Federation, NSW DPI, CSIRO, Seftons.

People development

FRDC invests with other RDC in a range of people development areas (e.g. safety education through Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia), leadership through Nuffield Australia and the Australian Rural Leadership Program that build capacity, encourage partnerships and learning across rural industries.

All RDCs and multiple rural bodies.

National Marine Science Plan (update)

FRDC is on the Executive of the National Marine Science Committee (NMSC) which comprises more than 40 organisations. The NMSC oversees more than $1 billion of public investment in marine science.

Forty plus organisations including CSIRO, Integrated Marine Observing System, bureau of Meteorology, Australian Navy, Greening Australia, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, DAWE, Great barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australian Antarctic Division, University of Tasmania, james Cook University, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Western Australian Marine Science Institution.

Status of Australian Fish Stocks

Assessment of 150 fish species status across eight jurisdictions into a national reporting framework Delivers against United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life below water)

NSW DPI, Victorian Fisheries Authority, Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Tas DPIPWE), Australian bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources, SARDI, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

International Coalition of Fisheries Associations

This group shares knowledge in fisheries and aquaculture from production to consumption with the goal of leveraging knowledge tools and having a consistent approach to emerging issues.

Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, japan, New Zealand, Norway, South American Fisheries Coalition, Spain, The Netherlands, United kingdom, United States of America.

Extension and adoption

R&D Plan 2020–25

Engage across fishing and aquaculture sectors to coordinate identification and deliver of collective activities in pursuit of shared 2030 vision.

All stakeholders. key include representative organisations, managers and researchers.

Extension and adoption

National RD&E Seafood Industry Safety Initiative

The initiative is a cross stakeholder partnership to enhance adoption of work health and safety best practice through industry focused extension. This includes industry- led Safety Roadshows, ‘Fish Safe Australia’ website.

Seafood Industry Australia, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Austral Fisheries, AgriFutures, Australian Eggs, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Wool Innovation, CRDC, Dairy Australia, GRDC, Meat & Livestock Australia.

Extension and adoption

Stock assessment toolbox

Project provides a strategic view of the framework Australia should adopt with respect to stock assessments. Develops a toolbox that makes stock assessment packages accessible, allows Australian assessors to contribute their models, and provides resources for their use.

Cathy Dichmont Consulting, CSIRO, NSW DPI, Victorian Fisheries Authority, Tas DPIPWE, AbARES, Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources, SARDI, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Future collaboration activities/projects

Australian Agricultural Innovation Investment Company

Participation in the establishment of a new collaborative investment vehicle. The new entity (working title Australian Agricultural Investment Company) will identify nationally significant cross-sectoral opportunities for increasing the productivity and profitability of the agricultural supply chain, develop strategies to facilitate a collaborative approach to realising those identified opportunities, and will secure the necessary resources to then execute those strategies.

Led by Meat & Livestock Australia with a working group consisting of GRDC, CRDC, Australian Eggs, FRDC, Australian Pork Limited and Dairy Australia.

Future collaboration activities/projects

Joint RDC Climate Initiative

The purpose of the RDC-led Climate Initiative is to deliver practical, implementable solutions for resource managers through innovative approaches that address climate change and its impacts.

Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations (CRRDC), all RDCs, CSIRO, DAWE. Led by CRDC and the working group of Dairy Australia, GRDC, Meat & Livestock Australia, CSIRO, DAWE, CRRDC.

Future collaboration activities/projects

Smarter Regions Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)

The Smarter Regions CRC aims to empower regional Australia to gain the maximum benefit from the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. It will transform existing industries and grow a technology sector in and for regional Australia.

Adelaide University, Sydney University, Wine Australia, GRDC and others. FRDC sector partnerships with Southern Rock Lobster Limited, Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries, Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association, Australian Abalone Growers, Association, Australian Prawn Farmers Association, Oysters Australia.


Objects of the FRDC’s enabling legislation— PIRD Act section 3

Object A—

Object B—

(i) increasing the economic, environmental and social benefits to members of primary industries and to the community in general by improving the production, processing, storage, transport or marketing of the products of primary industries,

(ii) achieving the sustainable use and sustainable management of natural resources,

(iii) making more effective use of the resources and skills of the community in general and the scientific community in particular,

(iv) supporting the development of scientific and technical capacity,

(v) developing the adoptive capacity of primary producers,

(vi) improving accountability for expenditure on research and development activities in relation to primary industries.

Make provision for the funding and administration of marketing relating to products of primary industries.

FRDC national research priorities

1. Ensuring that Australian fishing and aquaculture products are sustainable and acknowledged to be so.

2. Improving productivity and profitability of fishing and aquaculture.

3. Developing new and emerging aquaculture growth opportunities.

FRDC programs






Science and research priorities


Soil and water





Advanced manufacturing

Environmental change


Rural research priorities

Advanced technology

To enhance innovation of products, processes and practices across the food and fibre supply chain through technologies such as robotics, digitisation, big data, genetics and precision agriculture.


To improve understanding and evidence of pest and disease pathways to help direct biosecurity resources to their best uses, minimising biosecurity threats and improving market access for primary producers.

Soil, water and managing natural resources

To manage soil health, improve water use efficiency and certainty of supply, sustainably develop new production areas and improve resilience to climate events and impacts.

Adoption of R&D Focusing on flexible delivery of extension services that meet primary producers’ needs and recognising the growing role of private service delivery.

Outcome statement

Increased economic, social and environmental benefits for Australian fishing and aquaculture, and the wider community, by investing in knowledge, innovation and marketing.

FRDC vision

The FRDC’s vision is for Australia to have vibrant fishing and aquaculture sectors which adopt world-class research to achieve sustainability and prosperity.