During the year the FRDC communications team has played a significant role in developing and engaging with stakeholders particularly during COVID-19. The mix of activities has remained largely the same — media releases, digital communications, FISH magazine, communications collateral and events. In addition, the FRDC staff attended and presented at stakeholder events (pre COVID) across the country to ensure ongoing conversation and engagement.
COVID-19 communications update
The FRDC focused a lot of its communication activities in the second half of the year to assess and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. A dedicated COVID-19 webpage was established to provide updates both from government agencies (health, agriculture and fisheries) and on what the FRDC was doing in response to the evolving global situation (research projects, meetings and assistance). The website has allowed stakeholders to provide comment and feedback on issues they have faced across various regions and fisheries. See http://frdc.com.au/media-publications/fish/FISH-COVID19.
In addition, the FRDC increased the frequency of its regular communication, modifying the schedule of FISH magazine from quarterly to two shorter, timelier COVID-19 relevant editions. The content of the magazine was also tweaked to provide relevant information to FRDC stakeholders in relation to the cascading impacts of this challenging period, as well as to track the impacts on FRDC stakeholders through coverage in the magazine. To ensure the content FRDC provides is timely and relevant to its audience, the FRDC has established a feedback page for stakeholders to use — https://www.frdc.com.au/media-publications/fish/Feedback.
Message in a bottle
The FRDC’s communications team started producing a weekly e-newsletter in May 2020 which is delivered to all stakeholders. Subscriptions are via FRDC’s homepage at www.frdc.com.au. The newsletter mainly focuses on information that can assist with how stakeholders can adapt to COVID-19.
FISH magazine is a major tool for the FRDC to communicate with industry and its broader stakeholders. The publication is widely recognised as the leading fisheries research magazine in Australia. FISH magazine provides the FRDC with a platform for extending knowledge generated from research as well as to discuss key policy, practice and management issues that are relevant to fishing and aquaculture stakeholders.
During the year the FRDC ran a select tender process for the production of the magazine. A number of media production companies were identified as producing similar science-based content and asked to participate in the process. The companies were assessed against the selection criteria and evaluated by a panel consisting of the FRDC and two external rural RDC communication managers. Coretext was selected as the service provider to produce FISH magazine.
New issues and synthesis page
The FRDC undertakes research across a wide range of topic areas. Some of these become ‘hot topics or issues’ that garner a lot of industry and public interest. Where possible the FRDC will provide an easy-to-understand summary of the research undertaken on that issue.
The FRDC produces a range of digital-only communication materials including the quarterly stakeholder briefing (https://www.frdc.com.au/Media-Publications/Stakeholder-briefings), issues papers and e-mail updates. These publications are shared via e-mail to subscribers and key stakeholders on the FRDC’s customer database.
National Carp Control Plan
Communications activities in relation to the National Carp Control Plan (NCCP) have been a key focus for the FRDC over the past year. Activities included a regular progress report circulated via FISH magazine as well as to stakeholders at workshops and other events. In addition, the FRDC published regular media releases to inform the public of both the research as it is completed and of the more general activities being undertaken by the NCCP team. The NCCP exists in a contested space of complex and controversial research. For this reason, communications activities have been guided by an ethos of adherence to the research results and to maintain both transparency and an agnostic stance in relation to the outcome of the NCCP. For more on the NCCP see the section on page 59.
[CROSS REFERENCE TO p59 - Delivering the National Carp Control Plan chapter]
Little fish films
The FRDC organised an international short film competition aimed at school children. The goal was to raise awareness in the younger generation of the aquatic environment and how humans interact with it. The FRDC had gained the support and collaboration of fisheries agencies in other regions and applications had started when COVID-19 hit.
The competition was to be run in coordination with the World Fisheries Congress due to take place in October 2020 in Adelaide. However, due to the pandemic, the Congress was postponed by 12 months and the competition was also put on hold.
The FRDC is a member of the International Coalition of Fishing Associations Global Communication group. Throughout the year, the group meets four times to look at key issues to develop consistent information for industry and consumers. This year, the group also undertook an exercise to identify and map significant issues and areas of change in fishing and aquaculture across the world over the next five years (all prior to COVID). The key changes raised across all areas of the network are:
efficiencies of different forms of seafood production,
appropriate resource management,
trade distortion, embargoes, agreements,
fish production volume,
changing landscape for seafood sustainability,
The internet and associated enabling technologies will continue to be the central point from where the FRDC will deliver information. All finalised FRDC project reports are available from www.frdc.com.au.
All the FRDC sites continue to be upgraded to provide better integration as part of FRDC’s ICT strategy. The curation and collation of online content in relation to particular projects and issues has also continued to be a focus over the last year and work is ongoing. Project specific sites and pages have been developed during the year such as the SeSafe website — sesafe.com.au — focusing on safety training for the seafood sectors.
Social media provides the FRDC a platform to engage with stakeholders and consumers and address and respond to questions. As a whole, across all social media platforms, the FRDC has now almost 50,000 followers. A library of YouTube videos has also been created to cover topics from cooking seafood to fishing and aquaculture practices. The FRDC social media channels include: